I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up,
and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me....
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment;
his favour is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
(Church in Wales Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
All of us have at some time or other been in the depths of despair, unable to believe that the future will bring any hope, and feeling as though we cannot go on. At such times God can feel non-existent or at best far away. Although I have been a priest for 27 years, and who is a happy and optimistic person, I too have felt like this on occasion.
My lovely gentle and kind husband, Adrian, suffered dementia for about seven years before his death. This cruel disease took away his clever logical and mathematical mind, and his sense of humour, though not his smile. In the end, despite wonderful care, he looked like someone from a concentration camp.
In Psalm 30 we see King David. He believes that God has been angry with him, but that time is now over, and he praises God who has rescued him from danger. 'Weeping' he says, 'may linger for the night'. But eventually 'joy comes with the morning'. Well I can't believe that a God who loves us sent Adrian dementia - it was more likely caused by a fractured skull as a teenager, or too much rugby, or heavy smoking, or something similar. But I did feel an overwhelming sense of thankfulness, if not quite joy for him, at his death - that he would no longer have to suffer. I too praised God that morning.
when we are in the depths of despair,
cradle us in your arms,
let us cry in safety,
and bring us through the dark times,
until we can sing with joy
If you would like to learn more about Adrian and his journey with dementia, see my book 'A Litany of Dementia, or Life with Adrian' by Sharon Swain. Note: In the picture above I was trying to get Adrian to wave at the person taking the photograph, but he was unable to understand that and simply smiles at me.