“That was, without a question, one of the hardest things I have ever done,” Benjamin typed on his iPad one year ago in church, to avoid disrupting the service with whispers. I had watched while he walked back to his seat from his place at the piano and sat down heavily in our pew, and could only nod in agreement. It had been pretty hard on my end, too.
Not long before, our church received the shocking and heartbreaking news of the death of a young, vivacious woman, one of our dearest church friends. It was hard and painful, and these last few days, with the anniversary, I have been reminded again of just how much. I can’t even imagine what her husband and their two children have walked through.
That Sunday morning, a year ago, was actually just days after we had all received the news. And yet we were in church, hearing about God’s grace and singing, of all things, about joy.
How can we possibly have joy in the midst of something like this? I wondered. Where is the joy in the death of a friend?
Gently, God reminded me that His view of joy is different from our earthly definition. The joy He gives is constant, it is steadfast, and it cannot be changed by circumstances, no matter how grim. The joy of the Lord is stronger and firmer than any emotion.The joy God gives is constant and cannot be changed by circumstances, no matter how grim. Click To Tweet
Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” and 1 Thessalonians 5:16 tells us to, “Rejoice always.” There is no room left for exceptions.
Yet, Jesus never told us that our life would be without pain. In John 16:33, He said, “In the world you will have tribulation…” Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us that there is a time to mourn and a time to weep here on Earth, and Romans 12:15 tells us to “weep with those who weep.” Joy and sadness can go hand in hand.
We won’t always feel joy. Jesus Himself even cried with Martha and Mary when their brother died (John 11). Still, God tells us that we can find deep, restful joy in Him.
As Christians, we have seen and trust in the goodness of the Lord. We also know that there is an end to this pain and this world. We know that we have a secure salvation through Jesus. And we know that God is ultimately in control. In essence, as Christians focusing on God’s truth, we can know exactly what Jesus said at the end of John 16:33: “I have overcome the world.”We can trust in the goodness of the Lord, even in the midst of sadness. Click To Tweet
We live in a world that is broken and painful, and sometimes we experience terrible tragedy. The Bible doesn’t deny that. In this hurting world, we should always be ready to weep together and to comfort one another. We should mourn. But the Bible also tells us about a hope for the future, the love of our God, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
Our joy might not always be loud and jubilant. Sometimes, it’s just a strong, quiet joy that rests in the hope of the salvation of Christ, even as we weep.