He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations
(Psalm 105:8 ESV).
Turning My Page
My grandmother giggled like a teenage girl. Her whole being exuded joy at both hanging the sheets out to dry and investing in the lives of those around her. One summer, I spent several weeks with her and heard stories never shared with me before. Behind that giggle was a whole lot of suffering. It was impressed upon me that she had resilience. At the time, I was an Eyore, focused on the gloomy clouds constantly hovering over my life, and had little to no ability to bounce back. Still, I soaked up her stories and wondered how she could have such a great attitude, praise God for her blessings, and serve others wherever God placed her.
So much of Grandma’s life was deeply hard. Her father died when she was three, and when her mother remarried, her stepfather wasn’t keen on the extra baggage of a daughter. She passed from relative to relative until her siblings started arriving, and then she was brought back home to help raise her brother and sisters. She did not hold a grudge. When she was older, she endured the devastating loss of two sisters, who died because they got caught in a whirlpool and drowned. Grandma lived through the great depression, wars, and a husband who was a harsh and unforgiving man.
He had softened as a grandfather, and I only caught glimpses of his stubbornness, but I could tell she loved him with every fiber of her being. She lost a grandson who lived with her for a while when his parents discarded him to suicide. I didn’t understand then, but I do now how profoundly the loss of my cousin broke her heart.
Yet, despite all of these experiences, she laughed and celebrated life to the fullest. She shared her faith with me at a little white church in the country. She played cards with me and taught me how to make buttermilk toast when she was sick. I loved her tea, her stories, and everything about this five-foot-nothing, once curly-haired redhead. What I didn’t understand then, I know now as a believer in Christ.
I can now laugh, celebrate, and live life to the fullest, whatever circumstances may come because I recognize that Joy and Sorrow are beautiful companions. Death does not end my story. It is only a part of the story.
Turning Your Page
Start observing joy coupled with sorrow where you are. Who around you is an example of someone who lives life to the fullest amid hardship? What characteristics do you observe about them? Ask them to share the reason for their hope. Ask them what scriptures are foundational to how they live with sorrow and joy at the same time.
Learning to walk with sorrow and joy simultaneously is not easy. Often, our selfish and worldly desires get in the way. A simpler life, with no troubles at all, would be nice, but remembering that God sees you and has kept his covenant to all who believe in Him, what we experience in this life is but a blink. Living life to the fullest is possible because Jesus bridges the gap of our sinful nature and teaches us to take up our cross daily. Here are some other passages to help you practice joy in sorrow.
“Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight” (Psalm 119:143 ESV).
“‘Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour'” (John 12:27 ESV).
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV).
“‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid'” (John 14:27 ESV).
Lord, thank you for the many examples throughout scripture and in my life who exemplify your attitude of joy amid great hardship. May I take comfort and share that comfort with others because you waste nothing.