From Mourning To Dancing: The Choreography of God

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“Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me; O Lord, be my helper. You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, that my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” Psalm 30:10-12

I do not consider myself a great dancer, in fact I would not consider myself much of a dancer at all. I have always felt a bit awkward and uncoordinated on the dance floor. My wife, on the other hand, has loved to dance and at one point in time actually oversaw the choreographing of her high school musical. When we were engaged and about to be married she assured me that there would be dancing at the wedding. I was also informed that it was my responsibility to dance with her at the reception following the marriage ceremony. All these things were a bit disconcerting to me, but I wanted to please her and honor her in that moment, so I danced and tried to let the feelings of awkwardness dissipate. It was not as difficult to do as I had expected and with her as my partner I actually had a good time.

Since that time, I have not danced a great deal. I have fulfilled my responsibilities at my children’s wedding receptions and danced with my daughters, but aside from that I have pretty much stayed off the dance floor. I find I am still somewhat uncomfortable there. You see dancing is a bit risky because there is the potential to make a fool of oneself, to be awkward, out of step and clumsy. But avoiding the risk also means that I am avoiding the possibility of enjoyment and the celebration of life I might experience in this particular expression. It reminds me that much of the journey of life involves the willingness to step into risky situations in order to experience the joy and fullness of that life.

For the psalmist, who in this case is said to be David, dancing was a symbol of celebration and joy in the presence of God. It spoke of well-being and goodness experienced in the presence of God. After His victory over Goliath and the Philistines it is the way David manifested his praise to God and the celebration of God’s help in that moment. It is contrasted with the posture of mourning which included sitting in sackcloth and ashes as symbols of humiliation and sorrow. This posture of mourning is an appropriate expression of one’s humility and desire for the mercy God so generously bestowed on any, and all who turn to Him for help. It is a posture of humility and weakness that prepares a space to receive from God’s greatness and power.

It seems David was intimately familiar with both mourning and dancing. But for David, it was not his own efforts that produced the dance, but something God accomplished. In the midst of his mourning, his humility and sorrow, David asked for God to be gracious and help him. What he discovered was that God was fully capable of lifting him from the ashes of mourning and loss up to the place of restoration, animation and dancing. It was a significant shift brought about by God’s activity of gracious help. Exposed to the great goodness of the Lord and His faithful love, David could not help but dance. The very place of ashes, loss and mourning became the dance floor of celebration and joy in God’s presence. David’s task was to now to take God’s powerful hand and accept the invitation to dance with Him.

For any of us, it still may seem more comfortable to remain in the ashes and avoid the risk of the dance, but it is ultimately a celebration for which we were created. Every day we are invited to accept the help up from the ashes of mourning and brokenness and to join Jesus in the dance prepared for us in celebration of His grace and love. Our true dance partner awaits our arrival on the dance floor created from the ashes of brokenness and mourning. And the Lord is the perfect partner knowing each step and leading us in the way of His dance of life.

These past weeks I have become increasingly aware of my need for Jesus to reach down to me in my own brokenness and lift me up to the place of His dance. I am confronted daily by expressions of brokenness both physically and emotionally that need God’s gracious care and help. At times the manifestations of brokenness seem overwhelming and the mourning can spin out of control into despair and hopelessness. Fear of this place of brokenness often leads me to seek distraction rather than seek the Lord. I can be paralyzed in this place of weakness, but I am learning to be prayerful and to turn to God more readily for help. I must trust His faithful love and care. I must trust His promise of salvation and restoration extended to His children. I must trust Him.

In the psalms I am reminded that there is hope in the place of mourning and loss when in humility I come to God for help. He can turn my mourning into dancing. My role is to join Him in the dance He is revealing and not try to assume I know what the dance should look like. I must trust Him to lead in this dance for I don’t know the pattern and the process of the dance He is creating and revealing. I am called to follow His lead and trust He knows the choreography. What I am seeing in this dance is just the steps for each day. The one choreographing the dance is God and He knows all that lies ahead. My desire today is to stay attentive to the steps He reveals as I move through this day and to receive His help to follow more closely.

I am learning to trust God to turn my places of mourning into places of dancing. I am learning to become more comfortable with the dance revealed this day. I am learning to trust that God has choreographed the appropriate dance of life for me and I am praying for open hands to receive His invitation and help. May you as well open your hands to receive from the Lord the dance of life He has choreographed for you. It may be risky, but in doing so there is the possibility of restoration and life. Here is a song to further encourage your reflection.

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