He Turns Mourning to Dancing

Nobody wants to be in mourning. Nobody wants to feel the aching or loss, or the sorrow of regret. Can God turn our mourning into dancing? Does that mean He raises our loved ones from the dead, or gives us reason to rejoice even while we’re missing them? We like to think that God wants to turn all our mourning into dancing. But, I’ll be honest, that doesn’t always happen. It isn’t that God doesn’t always want the best for us – He is always a good God. My research turned up a lot more verses where our joys turn into sorrows, because we have not been true to our God. So, when do our sorrows become gladness?

Let’s examine the context for these verses from the Bible, so we can understand them better.

Psalm 30:11-12  11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, 12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
The context for this verse in Psalms is a song about being saved from enemies and despair. But the mourning isn’t just turned into dancing out of God’s goodness. The Psalmist argues to God that if he dies, he will not be around to praise God and tell of His faithfulness. He asks for God’s mercy, and it is granted it “that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent”. The transformation of our sorrows is not just to make us feel better, but to glorify God’s goodness, and our proper response of praising God is part of the package.
The context for Jeremiah 31 is less personal, more cultural. Jeremiah is telling the Lord’s declarations about the end times, when Israel will be gathered and rebuilt.
Jeremiah 31:13 Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
This chapter from Jeremiah is a message of hope for a future for God’s people. It isn’t about our personal sorrows, but about the collective loss and rebuilding of the nation of Israel specifically.
This same event is echoed in the final passage to address this concept:
Revelation 21:2 & 4 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. … 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
In both Jeremiah and Revelation, mourning becomes dancing as a people who have persisted in following God, in obedience to Him, come into the new earth, and the new Jerusalem, where they dwell with God. This is in contrast to those who have not been faithful to God, of whom he says:
Revelation 21:7-8  The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
God turning our mourning into dancing is not about comforting us. It is about glorifying God. It is about choosing to praise God here on earth, and choosing to obey God here on earth, so that we come into His presence in eternity. We should not expect all our mourning, all our sorrows and troubles, here on earth to be fixed the way we want them to be here on earth. Believing that, telling people that, will lead to disappointment. Our comfort isn’t in an earthly solution, but an eternal solution, and a loving God. So, what we can say to those in mourning is that we have a God:

2 Corinthians 1:4 Who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

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