Sorrow and Joy
WORDS | DANAE LANE
PHOTOS | MARISS EANES
LETTERING | SAM LYNCH
Do you ever have those days where you just know it’s going to be a good one? You wake up as bright and blissful as the morning light itself, open the blinds, and see that it truly is a beautiful morning.
Maybe it’s Saturday, and you’ve planned the perfect picnic in the woods with some of your most cherished pals. But first, coffee, (or tea for me, please!) and some quiet time with your breakfast.
I don’t know about you, but only my most perfect days start out like this.
Much of the time, I’m frantically choking down some yogurt on the way to work; or maybe, if we’re out of yogurt, I skip out on breakfast all together. I know that breakfast is important, and so is quiet time, but honestly, that’s how my mornings normally go. But we weren’t talking about normal days… we were talking about that one good day… let’s get back to that.
You finish your breakfast and get dressed, meet up with your friends and head out for an adventure. Lunches packed, cameras ready, you have on your favorite hat; the one that makes you feel like you can conquer the world. You’re so ready for this day. You’ve needed this day.
Because, let’s be honest, life hasn’t been too friendly recently, and it kinda feels like these past few weeks have kicked you in the gut more times than you can count. Maybe you’ve been stressed about school, and all of the assignments/events/commitments you’re trying to juggle. Maybe you’re done with school, and the “now what?” or feelings of incompetence are hitting you harder than you ever believed possible. Perhaps you’re dealing with a grief or fear that brings pain much more persistent and real than you’ve known before. I don’t know what you’re walking through, but I can bet if you’re reading this, you know what I’m talking about.
I’ve interrupted our perfect day again, but I have to say this: The older I get, the more I realize that everyone I know and love is walking alongside sorrow. This truth has been weighing on my heart heavily for some time. I want to fix it; fix them in their sadness, fix me in mine, so that we can finally get back to our picnic in the dang forest and just be happy! But here’s the thing: sorrow isn’t the problem.
I’m starting to learn that maybe sorrow and sadness are not what need to be fixed, but rather they are tools which help to do the fixing. We are told that trials develop our ability to persevere (James 1:2-3). In our sorrow we are being refined and strengthened. Our faith is being tested so that we can, one day, stand the test of time for eternity, lacking nothing. There’s another thing, though, that sorrow brings with it. Comfort.
“For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows,” 2 Cor. 1:5.
As Christians, we suffer with Christ. That is part of picking up our cross and following Him. But we are also comforted through Christ by our Heavenly Father, “The God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3).” His comfort overflows to us and through us. He comforts us, He is near to us. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).”
I don’t want the comfort of the world.
I want the comfort of God. I want to be near the Lord. I want my friends to be near the Lord. I think so often our sorrows cause us to call upon His name and draw near to Him. That’s the kind of thing we should rejoice in.
So we go back to our picnic, but have I ruined our day? Have I reminded us of the burdens we bear too blatantly? Can we go back to the fun treasures this day had in store? Sometimes good, happy, shiny days get interrupted with the reality of a fallen world. I encourage you, however, not to see it as a day or a moment that’s been ruined.
Sorrow is probably one of the most faithful companions we will meet on this walk through life. As hard as that can be to swallow, remember that through our suffering, God is near.
Again, I say rejoice! He is with us, comforting us, bringing us closer to Him. He runs with us as we gallivant wildly through the trees. He laughs with us as we sing funny old choir songs with friends. He sits with us, in the dusk, as we watch the last of the sun’s mighty rays sink behind the great peaks. He knows that each quick paced stride, all the laughter and tears, every moment of serenity brings healing that is miraculous and beautiful. Maybe even more miraculous and beautiful than the moments themselves. Don’t contrast your joys with your sorrows. See them as they compliment each other. Each revealing just how truly beautiful the other is. See them as one, a perfect team, neither sorrow nor joy would be complete without the other.
“I have learned to love the darkness of sorrow, there you see the brightness of His face. ” -Madame Guyon (from Streams in the Desert L.B. Cowman)