The Ridiculous JOY of Deep Sorrow!
“Shall we receive good from God and not receive sorrow as well?” – Job 2:10
“It’s ridiculous how much joy a moment can hold.” – Ann Voskamp
I think back on a defined moment in this journey when my heart felt glad and there were no trappings of the sorrow that bleed in a life that has ever risked living fully. I think and I grow silent. My eyes close and I focus on filling my lungs with air, until the burn, and exhaling slowly letting go of the small stuff which can overwhelmingly be big stuff.
My mind clears and I see my “Papa” through shadowed curtain. He is building an early morning fire. His ball cap snug on balding head. I’m all soft and warm. I hear birds sing in the morning. I should shrug off the patchwork memories and greet the day as a gift, but I hold. Still. Watching. “Papa” building sparks to flame – coaxing embers to bleed hot over dry wood. The smell of campfire smoke is rich and heady. It intoxicates, wrapping around my soul preserving innocence.
This is ever the same. When I smell wood burning over open air I remember. I am six or seven years old again: chubby, insecure, safe and untarnished. Emotions not yet fully developed, not yet fodder for the blackness to pursue; to destroy.
“But awakening to joy awakens pain.” – Ann Voskamp
And, pain can knock the wind from your sails. It leaves great wounds. The Deceiver can cause these wounds, but the Lover can too! He is not safe but good! He often asks the impossible, imploring us to follow on darkened path, uncertain of what looming dangers may befall us. In His sweet goodness He sings a balm of Gilead over us. His reckless love, amongst the wild and dangerous, pursues not to change, but to make new. The tearing down is ugly. It hurts deep. The foundation exposed feels naked…too vulnerable. This is where His love envelopes; flooding over like a wave pulling us to Him as the tide.
“Joy is always worth the wait and fully living worth the believing.” – Ann Voskamp
I sit in the relished childhood memory of camping. My mind fights against this glorious reality. It traverses the lands of Middle Earth, out skirting the black heart of Mordor. It stands stoic as stone in the “unending winter that is never Christmas” of Narnia. The numb is easy to take. The cold and fear is not.
I strive to compartmentalize the pain. I don’t wish to caress the fragmented pieces of alabaster. Afraid of the rough edges, hand pulled back bloody, I divide and conquer my heart. I grasp onto the good like a prized play thing and quickly shun the pain, avoiding its deep ache, until I am less real – less alive.
“How long does it take your soul to realize that life is full?” – Ann Voskamp
“In our rushing, bulls in China shops, we break our own lives.” – Ann Voskamp
In this moment I realize I am missing HESED: the consistent, ever-faithful, relentless, constantly pursuing, lavish, extravagant, unrestrained, furious love of God.
I shudder as I utter these very words, “if we do not embrace sorrow as readily as we do joy, striving not to, through human lenses, compartmentalize those things and circumstances we deem good or bad we will miss Him.” We must allow each circumstance to flow through us, standing with the Divine, wild, refining, transparent, sacred LOVE. This is grace. This is mercy. This is God.
I often wonder why there is so much suffering in the world. Pain is more prevalent. Joy a sweet ache of hope.
I am drawn to the end of one of my favorite films: The Never Ending Story. The entire story is fraught with loss, heartache, brokenness. The story mirrors the broken Bastian’s loss of his Mother.
In this resonate scene the “Childlike Empress” pleads with Bastian to give her a new name. The very hope of survival for Fantasia hangs in the balance. “The Nothing” is consuming, tearing, destroying the world asunder. Yet, Bastian hesitates. Why?
He is surely in disbelief, but it is also the name – his Mother’s. It holds all the pain, grief, and hopelessness of his loss. If he breathes her name through parted lips he breathes all that he has fought against. He opens himself up to pain.
In the end, the pain pales in comparison to the joy, adventure, a hope of more to embrace the impossible. He throws open the shutters, slides up the window pane, and as rain slaps his face stinging red, he screams into the black.
A tiny glow illumines Bastian and the “Childlike Empress”. Bastian, with trembling breath asks her what she holds in her hand. She tells him that it is all that remains of Fantasia. Yet, there is hope. She entrusts the tiny grain of sand to Bastian and tells him that Fantasia will grow again as long as he keeps wishing.
Hope, in the wake of total devastation often creates the impossible, the utter wondrous, the Divine. God doesn’t seek to destroy us. Often, the wrecking places us in His hands. He knows how to create a masterpiece from one grain of sand.
Sorrow and joy are each precious gifts and they meet in a pool reflecting crimson on thorns.
I don’t know how to embrace sorrow. The pain of it is too raw. I am Lucy when Aslan asks her to follow even if no one else will. Only when I step out through the loss do I feel His assurance.
He holds us. He cares for us. In deep sorrow there is ridiculous joy because He is there…in flesh and blood, nails and wounds. He took it all to rescue us in grace! To understand settles. To embrace is a gift!
“For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.” – Jeremiah 31:25