Day 1

A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance

from the reading plan

Matthew 5:4, Ecclesiastes 3:1-15, John 16:33, John 16:20, Psalm 30:1-12, 1 Peter 1:6-9

God created us as complex creatures, capable of feeling and sensing a whole garden of emotions. Made in the image of our Creator, we can both grieve the wrongs of this world, and celebrate the sweetness of this life. This 2-week reading plan will lead us through a series of passages from Scripture that examine the seasons of mourning and dancing in the life of a believer. In the written responses here on the site, our writers will enter into this tension, articulating their personal experiences with grief and joy in hopes of freeing you to explore your own. By immersing our hearts and minds in God’s Word, and honestly presenting our laments to Him, may we remember that God is present with us, He is good, and He is faithful.

There is a time for everything. There is a time to mourn and a time to dance. Occasionally, the seasons of these seeming opposites come at the same time.

I have a friend who died from cancer. He was one day older than me. I miss him a lot. He was a wonderful man who loved the Lord. When I met him, he was in the late stages of the cancer that took him. Multiple surgeries on his brain had left him partially paralyzed. He struggled to speak. But his love of life, Christ, and his wife, family, and friends made him someone whose memory encouraged me greatly when I later faced a life-threatening illness of my own.

His wife was also my friend. They lived a few houses down from us. When my friend died, I had the sad, holy honor of presiding over his funeral and walking with his family through their grief. I remember how, for what seemed like the next few months, my friend’s wife always had tears in her eyes. She wasn’t openly weeping continually, but her eyes were always hot with tears. I remember how they would just roll down her face, even as we talked about mundane things like mowing the lawn or an upcoming church picnic. Tears. Always tears.

At first, this made me nervous when I would talk to her. I didn’t want to trigger her sorrow. But after a while, she told me she wished her tears would cease so that people would stop avoiding the subject of her husband’s death when they were around her.

She said something I hope I never forget: “The tears are here because I’m sad and I miss my husband. My heart is broken. But I want to talk about him. I want to remember him with others who knew him and loved him. That brings me joy, even as it causes me to weep. I want people to understand that I can feel more than one thing at a time.”

Such wisdom. It is a mark of spiritual maturity to be able to feel more than one thing at a time. God has given us the capacity to simultaneously feel the depths of sorrow over the loss of a loved one and a swell of gratitude to God for the gift of that person’s life. This isn’t easy. In fact, it may even be something of a learned skill. But God has given us an incredible ability to feel things deeply in their time—even conflicting emotions at the same time.

Scripture has much to say about our deepest pains and brightest hopes, and as we read, we are invited to grow in our emotional, spiritual health. It’s okay to feel. In fact, it is vital.

There is a time to mourn and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4)—and those seasons may come joined to each other. Now may be the time for you to weep. Now may be the time for you to celebrate. Now may be the time for you to do both. Remember, we do not grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). So lean in and welcome the scrutiny of Scripture as we lay our hearts bare before the Lord.

Written by Russ Ramsey

Post Comments (61)

61 thoughts on "A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance"

  1. Joshua Dease says:

    It teaches me that his love is there even when it feels so undeserving. It also teaches me that one of the major keys to happiness and a blessed life is faith that God will always take care of you.

  2. Joshua Dease says:

    I’m slowly learning that every verse in the bible is packed full of energy and study-able material. The Bible is also so repetitive that it seems like how could we ignore these scriptures when they’re written over and over again, but at the same time each one seems to have its own meaning.

  3. Danny Pritchard says:


  4. Danny Pritchard says:

    Faithfully & continually !

  5. Jonathan Martinez says:

    That he cares for us, and that we are supposed to feel all things in their season. Uncomfortableness, sorrow, joy, rest, all those emotions we try to avoid or embrace are not really in our control. And God is masterful enough to allow us to find joy in the sorrow.

  6. Jonathan Martinez says:

    That we are incredibly complex things. Even when we can’t fully explain how we feel, we still feel.

  7. Jonathan Martinez says:

    I’m not really sure? So far it’s good news in a sense that Jesus recognized and taught that even with him we would still go through certain seasons.

  8. Jonathan Martinez says:

    I will pray for God to allow me to feel and be honest about my feelings.

  9. Jonathan Martinez says:

    Please Lord, give me the wisdom and insight to be real with myself about my feelings. Give me the strength to be open about my struggles and to seek accountability on being open. I want to be able to find joy in all the season of life, even the bad ones. Thank you for creating me with the capacity to care so deeply about something or someone that it totally wrecks me to lose it. May that feeling transform into action and that action into character. Allow my feelings to be a part of who I am as a man of your kingdom.

  10. Jake Cooper says:

    The gospel always has answers to our questions. Just as long as we are brave enough to get these questions answered then it will always help us. The gospel is the tool for happiness.

  11. Jake Cooper says:

    Man has emotions too. A tough guy has all the emotions that any other person has. I consider myself a tough guy. But I am a tough guy that has a soft side. God gives us these emotions to help us move along in our life. He gives us these emotions to not grieve over sadness but to learn from it or to love the life you live in a little more.

  12. Jake Cooper says:

    He is always there when you need him. He is my light and I need to follow it everyday. When I’m happy or when I’m sad, I must always praise him and thank him for this life he has given me.

  13. Jake Cooper says:

    I need to read the gospel more. I need to listen to my emotions and become one with my god. He is there for me but in not always there for him. I need to change my lifestyle and become one with the lord.

  14. Jake Cooper says:

    I will pray for change. For forgiveness. For love. For more emotion. I pray for the best in me as I do with others. I pray that I will always have God on my mind when I’m doing my daily activities and living my life. For I will not survive without his teachings and love. Amen.

  15. Ben says:

    This teaches me the complexity of God. That I am still in his image, and fulfilling his desires for my life, in my rejoicing in my lamenting.

  16. Ben says:

    Man’s complex. And if we don’t engage our complexities we will start our growth in our abilities to most fully engage with God

  17. Ben says:

    I will continue to seek to rejoice, however I will also seek to learn to lament

  18. Ben says:

    Jesus Christ model before us a life of deep rejoicing and lamenting

  19. Ben says:

    Lord help me rejoice and teach me to lament

  20. Trey says:

    That he is a comforter. He is everlasting, his understanding and work is deeper than anything else we know. He is an overcome, our overcomer. He is a secure place. He is a transformer, not like Optimus Prime, but as one who can transform our mourning into dancing, our tears into gladness.

  21. Trey says:

    It’s okay to feel. We were made to feel the breadth of emotions. It’s okay to feel everything. We have his favor forever, even if anger is temporary. There is hope for our future. We are temporary.

  22. Scott says:

    He is with me in each season and made me in His image. Therefore grief, sadness, are not completely a bad thing, other passages talk about when God has grieved over man and their sin.
    But there is only “a time” for everything. It’s important not to dwell. Embrace the time and move on.

  23. Scott says:

    God, give me clarity and understanding of my self. Help me to be more self aware today and give you control. Help me to practice the self control that You have allowed me as well. Teach me patience ,teach me kindness, teach me long suffering. So that I may love others the way You have loved me.

  24. Joel Van Mersbergen says:

    Though he is not absent, God Is outside of our circumstances. Meaning he is not swayed by them. I can feel stressed. It is just a natural thing. However “don’t sin in your anger.”(Eph 4:26; Psalm 37:8). I must remember that God is near and He is ok with my feels.

  25. Joel Van Mersbergen says:

    I will remember Jesus when I start getting stressed. I know when I do he often leads me down the road exploring what exactly it is that’s bothering me. He helps me to open up to others. I need to remember him in those times.

    I will memorize Matthew 11:28-30.

  26. Joel Van Mersbergen says:

    Jesus tell us to take His burden upon us. His is easy and light. Jesus tell us we are blessed when we mourn. The Gospel give us relief. Jesus is with us through it all.

  27. Joel Van Mersbergen says:

    We are all over the board. We are up. We are down. Some more than others. Some less. We are guaranteed to face changing situations and that our reactions, as different as they may be, will happen.

    In those situations, need to remember they aren’t permanent. Everything is a stage. It will end.

  28. Joel Van Mersbergen says:

    I will ask God to help me keep a wide view. Not to get fixated on the moment but to wait for it to pass.

  29. William Pierce says:

    His plan includes both my pain and my joy, and even though I may be sorrowful now, one day my joy will never cease. What Jesus did for me has and is and will bring me joy forever.

  30. William Pierce says:

    It doesn’t promise earthly wealth or even happiness, but a happiness that is in heaven. Our God has chosen us to live with Him forever and none of this pain will matter soon.

  31. William Pierce says:

    We are going to experience pain in this life, but we were made to experience life too.

  32. William Pierce says:

    Pray for God to show me more what His love does in hearts. Read His word, knowing one day He will speak to me directly and say “welcome home, son”.

  33. William Pierce says:

    Thankfully. Telling God that I desire to see Him, but honor Him here, now. Asking for His help in overcoming the obstacles in my head and my life.

  34. Trevor Seales says:

    There are seasons in our life and God uses each one for His purpose. We perceive each season from a human, finite perspective. But each season is a smaller component of God’s larger plan. We’re always under construction, gradually being refined by each season. Sometimes, like during seasons of grief, it’s easy to forget the promises God has already made. So as I read scripture this morning, I’m reminded that wounds are meant to be healed and joy will come after the darkness. Reviewing God’s promises from scripture allow me to feel safe and comforted as I examine the hurt and worry in my heart.

  35. Nathan says:

    We must experience troubles because this world is fallen. Humanity in itself is evil in nature, and sickness is natural. No matter how broken or hurt our lives may seem it isn’t God’s fault. We must face hardships, but gold in the fire comes out proved pure and your faith will be on display as a result of the victory.

  36. Nathan says:

    God knows when we walk through deep valleys. He sees our hearts and never lets us go. Jesus you are good and your glory will never end. He helps the brokenhearted and is close to those who are crushed in spirit. Even though now we are experiencing great sorrow, that only turns into our greatest joy and victory. We can always win with God because he is forever victorious.

  37. Nathan says:

    God’s word is never changing never ending never failing. His word is always right and it provides comfort and joy and instruction into our lives. He speaks to us through his word and his word is stable unshakable foundation of our faith. Without his word we can’t fathom who God is and what He will do in our lives.

  38. Nathan says:

    Jesus you are a God of peace and comfort. Help me to trust you in all things and to be strong and courageous in my valleys and deep darkness. Help me to hear your voice in all I do and to obey when I listen for your instruction. God you’re faithful and you won’t let go or abandon us. You are with us always until the end of the age. I pray for your kingdom to come and your will to be done in my life. Amen.

  39. Nathan says:

    I will trust God in the midst of my pain and sorrow. I will walk through the fire and not be burned and through deep waters and not drown. We are crushed but not broken, in despair but not desperate. We are His and He will make a way and part the seas for us! I will obey and go step by step in faith and trust and hope for my future. I will confess His word and use my fiery sword against all the enemy’s schemes and use my shield of faith to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

  40. Bryan says:

    We are complex. Our soul and our spirit are at odds, especially when there’s eternal gain from an earthly pain.

  41. Miles Smith says:

    He is all knowing and has seen what is to come and He has overcome the trials of this world. God makes everything beautiful in His time. His anger is temporary but he favors us forever. God designed us to feel and express ourselves.

  42. Miles Smith says:

    We are complex and can have many feelings at one time. It is best for us to be joyful and to do good as long as we live.

    We were designed to work hard and to take pleasure in our work.

    We have spiritual maturity when we can feel more than one thing at a time and understand .

  43. Miles Smith says:

    I will rejoice in my trials because the ultimate victory is His.

    I will express my burdens to Him because he has designed me to feel and encourages me to mourn because I will be comforted.

    I will not grieve as if there is no hope.

  44. Miles Smith says:

    We can have peace in God because even though we face trials, God has overcome the world. We know the final outcome so we can always rejoice in that.

    He favors us for eternity and that is why He sent his son in our place. All our sorrows will eventually turn into joy.

  45. Miles Smith says:

    Honestly, desperately, intentionally, often

  46. Robert Johns says:

    God created us in His image, therefore God feels in some capacity both sadness and happiness.

  47. Robert Johns says:

    Christ came so that we may have life, eternally. Though life on earth may be hard, there’s something greater coming.

  48. Robert Johns says:

    Man is complex, ebbing and flowing with certain emotions and seasons of life. This can also cause tension internally, not fully understanding how to feel and how to process emotions.

  49. Robert Johns says:

    I want to live life to the fullest, despite any trials.

    Life is short…live like it.

  50. Robert Johns says:

    God – help me to get over my frustrations and sad versions of trials. Give me empathy to feel for those who face real trials. Help me to understand how blessed I am and find ways to use those blessings for the good of others.

  51. Miguel Martinez says:

    That we ourselves are not inmune to any emotions.

  52. Miguel Martinez says:

    I must ask God everyday to continue to pour his spirit into me so my heart can always long for him in any season of my life.

  53. Miguel Martinez says:

    The gospel is our guide through the seasons of life. Whether we’re sad or Happy, we need to remember the promises Jesus made and hang on to them if we are to find hope in any situation.

  54. Miguel Martinez says:

    God created us in his image so everything that we feel or have felt is not unknown to him. Jesus walked this earth and experienced the very same things our hearts go through. He laughed, he cried, he felt angry and even sad. When we give our life to Christ, it’s not going to be this spiritual high that we will experience everyday. I’m so glad It’s not like that though because otherwise I would not been able to experience in moments of trials. That’s when it feels the best.

  55. Miguel Martinez says:

    Lord Jesus, thank you for softening my heart and letting me love and see people like you do. Thank you for giving the strength to forgive when it was eating me alive. I ask Lord that you continue to provide me with wisdom so that I can always be aware of my emotions and not doing anything that doesn’t bring Glory. In your name I pray, amen.

  56. Ryan says:

    Pray more. Feel more. Be honest and true to those feelings and know that no matter what, God is right by our side with the knowledge of his plan. We just need to trust it.

  57. Ryan says:

    Man can sometimes feel alone. We need constant reminders that God is, and will always be, with us. We need to have faith and trust in his word.

  58. Ryan says:

    That God has a plan already laid for me and he is with me while I weep and when I celebrate. We are not alone when in sorrow or celebration.

  59. Ryan says:

    I will pray and speak with the lord throughout the day. Mundane topics, heavy topics… celebrate and give thanks when needed as well as ask for his presence during turmoil.

  60. Zachary says:

    I’m sad quite often. As one who suffers with anxiety, most days, I struggle with making decisions or wanting to go out of the house because I know the slightest thing will set me off. But, mostly, I have occasions of great joy, and it’s because of my faith in the Lord.

  61. Mary R. Ford says:

    True, hearing my love one’s name pierced my heart, but it also released the mounting pain and sorrow in the form of tears. And then, God alone moved to wipe them away. It may not happen overnight. He may need to teach us grace. He may need to teach us patience. He may need to teach us long suffering, or kindness. But, joy will come through Him and His Word in due season. “All things are beautiful in its time.” Tears must flow for Him to wipe them away. And in the exchange joy flows. Thank you Father God that your love conquers all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *