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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Monday, October 5

You restored my life as I was going down to the grave.
—Psalm 30:3b

"Courage comes and goes…hold on for the next supply!" That's Thomas Merton’s piece of advice to a friend who was going through a period of spiritual darkness. Merton's words came to mind as I read Psalm 30—a cry of thankful acknowledgment coming from the other side of a crisis—"you restored my life as I was going down to the grave."

The Psalmist remembers the easy confidence that is our way when things are going well—While I felt secure, I said, 'I shall never be disturbed. You, Lord, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains.'" 

But then trouble hit, and he felt unhinged; he even lost his connection with God. "Then you hid your face, and I was filled with fear." Despite his experience of God's silence, he prayed nonetheless.

And his prayer is earthy…real. He's begging and arguing at the same time. "What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness? Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me; O Lord, be my helper."

Courage comes and goes. He's holding on, desperately, for the next supply. Apparently he held on long enough. Things turned around. He experienced God's saving help. So now, on the other side of the crisis, he's doing at least two things: (1) thanking and praising God, and (2) treasuring what he has learned, especially about the up-and-down nature of things.

His hard-found wisdom will be strength for him the next time he feels threatened. "Weeping may spend the night, but joy comes in the morning.…You have turned my wailing into dancing; you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy." He'll need to remember all of this the next time weeping, wailing, fear and absence loom large.

When our courage exits, it's good to believe that it will one day return. Until that day…hold on.

When hope fails and fear overwhelms, O God, help me to remember that this too shall pass, until courage returns, and I can stand once again. Amen.

These Signposts were originally published on in 2005.