‘You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness’ (Psalm 30:11)
In John 16:20, Jeremiah 31:13, and throughout the Bible, stories of harrowing sadness are shown to result in triumph and even ‘joy’. This transition from ‘mourning to joy’, is just one of the divine characteristics of God the Redeemer… the God of Israel. This seemingly impossible conversion from overwhelming grief to celebration is perhaps most exemplified in Israel’s annual upholding of Yom Hazikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut. Beginning the evening of May 7th, Israel’s Memorial Day is ushered in to honor and mourn the loss of the many fallen soldiers. This commemoration was recently expanded to also include civilian victims of terrorism as well. However, the very next day is the celebration of Israel’s Independence. In its first years as an autonomous nation, Israel celebrated its day of Independence with a memorial for the thousands who perished in the War of Independence in 1948 and has kept this sequence ever since, resulting in a seemingly contrasting day of mourning and day of celebration.
This paradox is at the heart of the Israeli spirit. Throughout Memorial Day there are vigils held, a moment of silence kept as an air-raid siren rings out for citizens to take pause, and a veil of somberness seems to fall over the whole country. The State of Israel’s creation was through war, and every subsequent year that has passed since its inception, 18-year-old Israelis have been mandatorily conscripted to the Israeli Defense Forces; Thus, the country lives in a constant state of mourning for those who lost their lives fighting for the country’s establishment and those who have perished fighting for its protection and maintenance. As of 2018, the estimated number of fallen active-duty Israeli military personnel had reached 23,645 since the War of Independence.
It is customary for Israeli school children and families of fallen soldiers to visit the grave sites of recently deceased soldiers. The casualties of those who have given their lives in service to Israel and its security are honored for their ultimate sacrifice. However, unlike many other countries, there is no promise of a coming solution to Israel’s existential threat or foresight to a future where mandatory conscription will no longer be necessary. With this reality in mind, the country and its people must internalize this existence with every passing year as the death tally increases. However, there is something miraculous in the hearts of mourners here, and there is an eternal joy that follows every day of mourning. At sunset on Yom HaZikaron after a day of tears and vigils, the whole country erupts in celebration to subsequently rejoice in the nation’s independence. Fireworks light up the night sky, family gatherings commence with barbeques and bonfires, and Israeli flags adorn every street-corner, vehicle, and pedestrian. The flag, which only 24 hours prior, symbolized sacrifice and somberness, is now a symbol of victory and hope. Like the turning of a page, the spirit of Israel ‘turns from mourning to dancing’.
As the hands of feet of Yeshua, CBN feels the call to serve every affected population in Israel during these times of remembrance. Through food parcels and psychological counseling, CBN invests in the well-being of victims of terror in the Southern region of the country. Through monthly support, and the establishment of an integrated residence for lone soldiers in Jerusalem, CBN cares for those who are actively serving their country. CBN will neither forget the sacrifice of those who have died in bringing about the prophetic establishment of the state of Israel in its biblical homeland nor forsake those who bear the brunt of this sacrifice in modern times. We also vow to never let this difficulty deter our efforts to celebrate the great nation we are proud to serve through aid and prayer and support those who have served Israel with their lives.