Recently, I was heavy-hearted when Clay and I dropped by our son Billy’s church in Santa Clarita, CA. It wasn’t open, and we just intended to pray some outside. We parked the car, and I heard cooing and got out to look. I saw 2 gray doves. Mama dove was on her nest tucked beneath an eave. Papa dove sat nearby on the church Cross. Beyond the obvious, I wondered if there might be some message in this. I did a tad of research and found that gray doves are called mourning doves. I left it at that.
The next morning, I looked at news on my phone. Just more distress in our country. I was depressed . . . again. I found the views of some Christian friends on social media most discouraging. I felt that our beautiful American ideals were gone forever and all the remaining good was vanishing into some chasm into hell. The revival for which we prayed seemed too far out of reach. I cried.
I dragged myself to my daily Bible reading and went to Isaiah 38. As I read, verse 14 stunned me: “I cried like a swift or thrush, I moaned like a mourning dove. My eyes grew weak as I looked to the heavens. I am troubled; O Lord, come to my aid!"
Wow, that’s me – a mourning dove! How many times are mourning doves mentioned in the Bible? I had to know. I discovered that a mourning dove is mentioned once in the entire Bible (Isaiah 38:14) and only in the NIV and NLT versions.
What was God saying to me? As I prayed, I felt Him saying, “Blessed are those who mourn.” I remembered how, in my young newlywed days, Clay’s family in W. Virginia had a family Bible on the coffee table. One time while visiting, I read the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 and saw, “Blessed are those who mourn (for the state of the Church)” (v. 4). I have always remembered that parenthesis. It reminds me that Jesus appreciates the mourning that comes with intense spiritual purpose.
Now God seemed to be reminding me to keep praying fervently for the Church and for our nation. So, I prayed, wept, and mourned in the Spirit over the Church’s great failure in our day to impact our culture. So often we have focused on fluff as the world went its way. I mourned over our culture’s cataclysmic freefall from her pinnacle. No one tore our nation down; we simply abandoned it. Toppling monuments is only a physical expression of what has already taken place in America’s soul. Yes, I mourned.
Then, I thought of Ecclesiastes 3 and how we go through many sad seasons in life. One is “a time to mourn” (v. 4b). Yet, there is comfort in this passage, too. It also cites hopeful times -- to build, to heal, to mend, and to enjoy peace.
I felt God was telling me that it is entirely appropriate to mourn in a season like the one we are in. Yet, at the same time, Christian hope transcends it. I believe He nudged me as He did Samuel as he lamented over Israel’s latest calamity. One day, God tapped him on the shoulder and said, “You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel, so fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king.” Essentially, God told Samuel, “Enough with your mourning. You have a new assignment. I am birthing a new chapter, a greater work. . . So get up, get moving, and have hope.
Yes, we grieve. But Scripture assures us that we do not “grieve like the rest, who have no hope.” (See 1 Thes. 4:13.) In fact, our hope is great! Here are just a few scriptures about our Christian hope: No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame . . . . Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD. . . . Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God . . . . But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. . . . For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. . . . Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us. . . . Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. . . . May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. And finally, of course, we wait for the blessed hope -- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Psa. 25:3; 31:24; 42:5; 71:14; Jer. 29:11; Rom. 5:3-5a, 12:12,15:13; Tit. 2:13)
I think of the Mama and Papa Dove. Fortunately, they aren’t really mourning. They are looking forward in hope, anticipating the new lives that will be born. They are a sweet little couple. Yet, I felt God showing me that while He appreciates my season of mourning, He wants to lead me from identifying with the mourning doves. He wants me to look up in hope and soar high in His promise: He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isa. 40:29-31).
I will be posting again soon with Part 2 of “From Mourning Dove to Eagle Christian.” I want to do some teaching about what God is showing me about Eagle Christianity. Stay tuned!
If you have thoughts or suggestions, please enter them below!