I’m fascinated by how certain memories are embedded in the mind. Research shows that the more emotional experiences tend to be remembered better than dry ones. I still remember the day I attended the funeral service of a teenager who was shot on the streets of Baltimore.
I had set up my camera at the back of the church with the other TV crews. I don’t remember this teenager’s story, but this death hit his community pretty hard. They had all gathered at this large Baltimore church to honor his life.
I don’t remember the preaching. I don’t remember the eulogy. I remember the song that reached in and grabbed my heart.
The young gospel choir began to sing Kirk Franklin’s “My Life Is in Your Hands,” which begins with a short message, “No matter what you’re going through, I know that you can stand, for your life is in His hands.”
I don’t even remember what had been bothering me at the time, but the words opened me up. And I indeed listened closely.
It starts slowly with these words: “You don’t have to worry, and don’t you be afraid.” It’s one thing when someone tells you this. It’s another when they are sung by so many voices when your heart is wide open.
Then the song quotes from one of my favorite Psalms—Psalm 30:
Joy comes in the morning.
How often do we cry in pain at night, where our fears and insecurities prey upon us? We think that all is lost. We lose hope. We cry and cry and don’t think the anguish will stop.
Then suddenly, it’s morning. It’s a new day. It’s a fresh start.
So how do we get to the morning? How do we have hope during the night?
The song responds, “If your heart is broken, just lift your hands and say, ‘I know that I can make it. I know that I can stand. No matter what may come my way, my life is in Your hands.”
These were words I needed to hear at that moment. I stood there completely engrossed, feeling every bit of heaviness lifted. I wept with all of the others because I knew there was someone greater than I who was holding our hands through our troubles.
How easy it is to forget this! How often we tell ourselves—and others—that we are strong! Perhaps we might be at that moment, but when we’re alone, when no one is there to comfort us, the voices of doubt like to prey upon us.
Those are the moments where we might choose worldly things to pacify us. That’s where we become attached to things that pass away.
But the song tells us to “remember there’s a friend named Jesus who will wipe your tears away.”
We then reach down into our souls and find what’s eternal, what holds us together, what binds us to all creation.
We hold onto this through the realm of despair, the night of anguish, trusting that “joy comes in the morning.”
When morning comes, we respond with the end of Psalm 30:
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.