I’m sitting on my porch while I write this. As I look around, I see things that elicit a smile on my face: my dog who always wants to be near me, the flowers thriving in spite of my poor gardening abilities, and the fan my husband propped on a stool because of the increasing summer temperatures.
Other thoughts begin to form as well–not joyful comforts, but situations that cause a lump in my throat and bring tears to my eyes: a friend’s recent illness, a lost loved one, a relational strain…and other heartbreaks I can’t put into words here.
As I sit, a question begins to rise to the surface: what do we do with this interweaving of joy and sorrow, happiness and mourning? I sit with this question a bit, not rushing to the answer.
While there are times when life is thrilling, and times when life is devastating, most of life is spent somewhere in the middle. These threads of joy and sorrow weave together to create the tapestry of our lives, and each of them has a purpose.
Joy reminds us of God’s goodness, His love, His grace, and the coming eternal joy. Sorrow reminds us of brokenness in our world and within our own hearts. Joy is evidence of the goodness of our Savior; sorrow is evidence of our need for Him.
When we, the sons and daughters of God, live with a knowledge of a better, perfect eternal world *and* with an intimate awareness of the mess around us, the result is often a dissonance that causes longing deep within.
Most of us would like to have joy all the time, but even when we’re in the middle of something thrilling, the internal ache is right there with it. We might even wrongly identify this as discontentment or ungratefulness, but the longing and ache have a purpose.
So I’m confronted with these truths:
- The interweaving of joy and sorrow creates a longing for our Savior, a longing to be with Him, and a longing for all things to be made right.
- It is this very longing that creates space in us for the Lord to work, like a hunger He plans to feed.
- The work God does within us is preliminary to the work God does through us.
I think of 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 which says Jesus, “comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
What a beautiful truth: He comforts us so we can comfort others.
Refusing to acknowledge the sorrow of life might feel pleasant for a time, but it isn’t simply resisting sadness, it is resisting the way God works.
Does this mean we should meditate on the brokenness around us? Of course not. We set our minds on Him, but we do so without ignoring the sorrow, knowing the resulting longing has a purpose. If we know the goodness and faithfulness of God, we can receive both the joy and sorrow of life, knowing God is using all of it to draw us near, work in us, and work through us.
None of those hard situations I mentioned earlier have changed as I’ve sat here, but my heart has been drawn to Him. I remember who He is, and I can get up from here ready to share His power, comfort, and joy with others. I can trust the One who is weaving the threads to reveal His goodness and glory.