Joy and Pain
“As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” 2 Cor. 6:9-10 underlining added
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:” 1 Peter 1:3-6
Decades ago, drenched in the sin of drunken debauchery, I would get so drunk and obnoxious I would sing the same songs over and over. I used to sing a song about “joy and pain” over and over. The only joy I knew then was artificial and drunken. And I knew intimately the pain of a broken, sorrowful, sin-infested life. I have continued through the years to know a fair amount of the pain of life’s trials – and, at last, to know true joy. I now know it’s not only possible to rejoice amid sorrow, but we are called by God to do just that.
The apostle Paul experienced joy amid unfathomable persecution for proclaiming Christ. He wrote of being joyful amid sorrows. The Greek word translated into sorrow also means distressed and heaviness, per the concordance. The apostle Peter wrote of rejoicing while experiencing the heaviness of temptations. The word temptations comes from a Greek word also meaning adversity, per the concordance. Experiencing joy in the thick of our sorrows, distresses, heaviness, and adversity, our battles, hurts, hardships, griefs, and obstacles seems impossible. But when we repent, believe in, and follow Christ, our hope isn’t in our circumstances but in an intimate relationship with God now and forever in heaven! Sounds pretty on paper, but how do we do this? I confess I am just now learning this. God’s Spirit is teaching me to shift my heart from pain to praise, from hurt to the hope of heaven, from those I have lost to the One I have forever, from my woes to worship, from the world to the Word, from getting knocked around by people’s ugly words and actions to crawling like a child into the secret place of Christ where there is light and the sweet salve of His mercy, tender words and grace, from focusing on the dangers and traumas of life to hiding in the promises of Christ and forever with God. In Christ there is joy forever.
Be joyful in the midst of sorrow – in Christ!