Joy and Sorrow

As I wiped the tears from my eyes, I jotted this question in my notebook a few days ago: Isn't it amazing that the human heart has the ability to hold such joy and such sorrow simultaneously? I feel like I have been operating on auto-pilot for three weeks. I have been doing my best to keep juggling the balls I have in my possession while smiling, singing, and resting in God's word. Sunday afternoon I, like most people, joined my church family virtually and suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of sadness. The message was uplifting and full of hope, but as our pastor offered the closing prayer, I was hurting. There was an ache in my heart I could not shake even after the tears began to flow. Where did the feeling come from? Didn't I safe guard my heart from this deep feeling of grief? How was it possible to feel the love of those around me and still be overcome with this deep sense of sorrow? My twin first cousin (as we dubbed ourselves) called me Monday afternoon and I tried to convey how I was feeling. She said she was feeling the same way and had spent most of the day crying. On my! So had I. We encouraged one another, shared our love for each other, promised to keep praying for each other and concluded our phone conversation believing this feeling would pass. Later that day, I realized what I didn't need to rush the feeling away because I was feeling was lament. Lament is a deep sense of grief. Lament recognizes struggles and suffering of the world. Lament is the acknowledgment that the world is not as it should be. Lament is felt when we bear one another's burdens. Lament is not bad. Lament is uniquely Christian and it is a form of prayer. I chose not to rush through or brush off this feeling. I chose to sit in quiet lamentation--well, maybe not quiet. I lamented as I vacillated between joy and sorrow. Joy over the birth of a child--yet sorrow over the season she has entered the earth. The joy of spending time with my family--yet the sorrow of those who do not have a safe place to call home. The joy of having home-cooked meals and time to prepare them--yet the sorrow of the local restaurant owner who cries because she doesn't think her business will survive this global crisis. The joys and sorrows of life all mingling together. Today I find comfort in God's word. We have not faced a crisis like this before, but I still know without a doubt that God is in control. He is acquainted with grief. Because of that we can rest in Him. In our pain, we can lean into Him and take refuge.

So, if you can identify with this awkward mixture of joy and sorrow, don't rush through or take lightly the privilege to lament. Lay it all at Jesus' feet. Cry out to Him--He hears, He knows, and He understands. He alone is able to bring calm and peace to your heart. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I, O Lord, that is higher than I.

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