This is our daughter, Trina, on the day she returned home from her vacation in Indiana. While back in Indiana, she spent time with her college friends and grandparents. She saw the endless fields of corn and the changes to the house and community where she grew up. It was a wonderful time, a hard time, bittersweet. And then she came home. She had missed home, was glad to be home, but...mixed emotions.
A daughter’s wedding. A Christian’s funeral. These are events in which my friends and I have experienced mixed emotions. Many proud fathers are reduced to a puddle of tears, while marching their lace-gowned daughters down the aisle. Parents pray for God’s choice of husband for their daughter, and then cry a river of tears when our little girl grows up and leaves the nest. Mixed emotions. A Christian’s home-going is cause for celebration – their eternal release from deterioration and pain. But those who remain live with the gaping reality of loss. Mixed emotions. How about less monumental occasions? Like children going back to school? We love them, and summers are a wonderful time of family building. But there’s just something about putting them back on that school bus that brings a sigh of relief. Mixed emotions. Our spiritual journey is also full of mixed emotions, too. The remnant in Jerusalem experienced a whole gamut of feelings as they took the next step in building the Lord’s Temple…
Ezra 3:7-11a – “Then they gave money to the masons and carpenters, and gave food and drink and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so that they would bring cedar logs by sea from Lebanon to Joppa, as authorized by Cyrus king of Persia. In the second month of the second year after their arrival at the house of God in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Jeshua son of Jozadak and the rest of their brothers (the priests and the Levites and all who had returned from the captivity to Jerusalem) began the work, appointing Levites twenty years of age and older to supervise the building of the house of the LORD. Jeshua and his sons and brothers and Kadmiel and his sons (descendants of Hodaviah) and the sons of Henadad and their sons and brothers--all Levites--joined together in supervising those working on the house of God. When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: ‘He is good; his love to Israel endures forever’” (emphasis added).
- After two years of faithful sacrifice on the altar, the remnant of Israel had more work ahead. They secured the workforce of laborers and foreigners, and they did it with praise. We don’t know if they did it with joy, but we know that they did the work that was authorized by King Cyrus with the praise songs prescribed by King David. They were faithful, and it bore fruit even if they did the work with mixed emotions.
- Everyone shouted praise at first. Then, the older ones remembered the glory days and began to weep and wail their regrets. The younger ones let hope raise their volume. Two important concepts here:
- People far away were watching – people pay attention to our example, our reaction to God’s working in our lives.
- Tears look the same, whether they fall in joy or sorrow.
Lord, why did You make all tears the same but my emotions so different? I can feel such a range of emotions in the same teardrop. Two people can look at the same object or circumstance and feel two completely different emotions as well. Help me to love those who feel differently than me, and help me not get stuck in my disappointment, but somehow turn it to praise.