Jennie Wilson was born on an Indiana farm in 1857. Her life was filled with trouble and change. Her father died in infancy. At age 4 she suffered a spinal disease that rendered her an invalid, confined to a wheel chair. However, she developed a love for music and poetry and began writing lyrics for hymns.
The post civil era in which she lived was a time of transition and vulnerability for many poor farmers, share croppers and emancipated slaves. In was during the time of societal upheaval that Jennie wrote these words that later became a famous hymn.
Time is filled with swift transition
Naught of earth unmoved can stand
Build your hope on things eternal
Hold to God’s unchanging hand.
How quickly things can change. We’ve all experienced it. That heart-rending phone call with a sobbing voice on the other end with tragic news. The results of a test and the Doctor’s unfavorable prognosis. The husband announces that he’s leaving to the shock of his wife and children. A close associate who betrays your trust. A once devoted friend who cowardly leaves when you need him the most.
Indeed, “Time is filled with swift transition.” How quickly we can descend from the Mountain top to the valley. In the blink of an eye. In the time it takes for a vapor to vanish.
It was true in Jesus’ life as well. In the last week of His life He entered Jerusalem on Sunday to chants of “ Hosanna” from a cheering crowd. “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord,” they exclaimed. Yet by Friday the mob clamored for his death. “Crucify Him! Crucify Him,” they cried.
The disciples had been together following Jesus for over three years. They came into Jerusalem together. On Thursday night they ate the Passover together. But by Friday they had scattered. Judas had betrayed Him. Peter had denied Him. All had forsaken Him.
And Friday was a day of sadness. Sorrow. And defeat. Jesus was dead. The Cause was lost. The movement was over. Gloom filled the hearts of His followers.
But in three days everything changed!
The mob had been silenced. The critics quieted. The apostles sadness was turned to gladness. Death had become victory. Their dead Leader was alive again. The disciples banded together. The “lost” Cause was launched with a new vigor. And the disciples were fueled by a fire that burned within them and “turned the world upside down.”
The Psalmist was right. You don’t know what a day may bring forth! What’s happening in your life right now? Are you on the Mountain top? Or in the valley? Swiftly either can change in an instant. That’s life.
So, what we need is a bigger picture. A broader view. A deeper insight. Life is a mixture of good and bad. Joy and sorrow. Victory and defeat. And God in His time can use them all to mold us. And make us better.
During our greater joys, it’s tempting to think life will always be that way. And during our deepest sorrows it’s difficult to believe we can ever be happy again. But because we are caught “in the moment” our vision is limited.
The wise man reminds us that “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven” (Eccl. 3:1). Just like Jesus experienced the “highs” and “lows” of life, so will we. But because of Jesus’ death on Friday and His resurrection on Sunday, we have hope. Our Friday’s of defeat will ultimately result in Sunday’s victory. It’s hard to see it through tear filled eyes, but it is true.
And so in joy or in sorrow. Good times or bad. Remember this. Jesus is on the throne. Jesus is King. Jesus is Lord. And yes, it’s Friday. But Sunday’s coming!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman