Weeping into Rejoicing

“Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” Psalm 30:5b

While working in research and development on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, I had the privilege of preaching for a number of weeks at a Pentecostal church pastored by Terry Gilbert. We enjoyed a wonderful time of fellowship and an extra special time of worship. One of the memorable choruses my family and I learnt was based on Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (KJV).

The message behind this text has been a wonderful inspiration in times of trial. It’s a reminder of God’s faithfulness, compassion, and restoration. A reminder that no matter how tough the going may be, God in His mercy sees us through and promises to turn our crying into laughter.

John Herwin knew the truth of Psalm 30:5. During the fierce occupation of Holland by the Spanish troops under the cruel and notorious Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alva, John Herwin was imprisoned for daring to fight back against the secular arm of the Papacy and the Spanish Inquisition. He had cut dykes and resisted the Spanish in order to have the right to worship God without the interference of priest, prelate or pope.

He was a man of passion and faith, filled with the Holy Spirit and dedicated to the Lord. “In prison,” says the chronicler of the time, “he was wont to recreate himself by singing of psalms, and the people used to flock together to the prison door to hear him.” That upset the Spanish Council of Blood immensely and in order to stop him singing they sentenced him to death.

At the place of execution he lifted up his head and began to sing his final song. An angry friar tried to stop him but John Herwin gestured to the gathered crowd and they too lifted their voices and joined him in the singing of his song.

And what did he sing? Psalm 30! “Hear Lord, have mercy, help me, Lord. Thou hast turned my sadness to dancing; yea, my sackcloth loos’d and girded me with gladness; that sing Thy praise my glory may and never silent be. O Lord my God, for evermore I will give thanks to Thee.”

Then he said to the people, “I am now going to be sacrificed; follow you me when God of his goodness shall call you to it.” With these final words he was strangled and burnt to ashes.” His weeping had endured for a night, but in the context of eternity his joy came in the morning.

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