“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” Psalm 126:5
It was one of the most iconic photographs of the twentieth century, and we have all seen it. Captured on camera by Alfred Eisenstaedt the photo portrays a U.S Navy sailor embracing and kissing a young woman. The place was a crowded Times Square in New York, and the date was August 14, 1945, “V-J Day”, the official end of World War II. Published the following week in Life Magazine (the equivalent of going “viral” in today’s world), that snapshot remains one of the iconic symbols of the victorious conclusion of one of history’s most devastating wars.
It would be presumptuous, at this point at least, to equate the current Coronavirus pandemic to World War II, and we certainly pray it is contained swiftly so as not to be as prolonged and tragic as the War turned out to be. But there are some similarities, most notably that in addition to the great heroes on the front line – the healthcare workers, first-responders and many others who are in harms way, like the brave soldiers in war – every citizen in the entire world is a participant. We are all in danger, many have suffered loss with sadly more to come, and we are all engaged in the war against this pandemic in one way are another, particularly in the call to sacrifice, just as all citizens were called to do during World War II.
Considering these similarities, a look-back at that 1945 photo may reveal a deeper message than merely the war’s end, a message we are all badly in need of. For, what it really symbolizes is hope, which may be why it became iconic as it has, symbolizing new beginnings, people living again and moving on with their lives, growing and prospering, raising families and enjoying the fruits of their labors.
We should be reminded that even when forests burn down they are able to grow again, that broken bones heal, and even grief is not a permanent condition, that tears can be seeds that will grow into a harvest of joy because God is able to bring good out of tragedy. We must remember that as we trudge through this mighty battle, that one day, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” In that lies our hope. May we pray continually for that day to arrive soon when we too are free to celebrate – maybe even kiss a stranger in the middle of a crowded Times Square.