Celebration and Tragedy (2 Kings 18; 2 Chronicles 29-31; Psalm 48)

This picture is of two of the several years that I shaved my head for charity.  I raised somewhere in the neighborhood of $10K for childhood cancer research.

Even as Israel was about to be carried off to Assyria, Judah had a new king.  ” Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses.” 2 Kings 18:5-6. Such high praise for this king late in the life of Israel.

The Chronicler, takes some time to remember the festivals after Hezekiah returned the people to righteousness, even getting rid of the pagan alters and Asher poles.

Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites, who showed good understanding of the service of the Lord. For the seven days they ate their assigned portion and offered fellowship offerings and praised the Lord, the God of their ancestors.  The whole assembly then agreed to celebrate the festival seven more days; so for another seven days they celebrated joyfully.

That’s what it felt like at the St. Baldrick’s events. We shaved our heads in the midst of a festive public event.  We drank beer.  We were joyful.

The author of Kings jumps pretty quickly fourteen years down the road when, “Hezekiah king of Judah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: ‘I have done wrong. Withdraw from me, and I will pay whatever you demand of me.’” 2 Kings 18:14.  Hezekiah was the best king of Judah, and he couldn’t turn the tide.
This photo is full of tragedy.  I got involved because my friends’ seven year old son lost his life to cancer.  One of the boys in the top right picture would die the year after in a tragic accident. And as a result, his very shy younger brother, pictured in the bottom left took his place the next year to honor his brother.  But, rather than lessen, I feel like the comingled tragedies may actually intensify the impact of the celebration.  Looking into the eyes of disaster, whether a couple of guys or a nation, and say, “No, we will not forget our joyfulness,” seems even more powerful than celebration alone.
Have you ever celebrated in the face of disaster?  Have you found space for joy in sadness?  

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