After talking in my last blog about repentance, I’ve decided to continue exploring this intriguing mixture of joy and grief. Here are 3 more ideas to unpack.
- Love Lost.
Many of us know what it is to lose someone or something precious to us. It is difficult to know how to celebrate something which is no longer in your life. It can also be challenging to accept that something so beautiful, so meaningful and so personal to you is gone forever.
I guess these struggles are similar to those faced everyday by those who have lost a loved one. There is so much to celebrate about that person and there are so many wonderful memories to hold on to. At the same time, we cannot remember that wonderful person without feeling the agony of their absence.
This is a bittersweet form of joyful grief. There is much to lament. Even the joyful memories are worth lamenting, as they can make the loss all the more poignant. How vital it is to truly lament and hold fast to those things and people most dear to us.
Interestingly, we only lament things precious to us; we do not lament unimportant losses, like the junk mail I threw out last night. I suppose one thing that true lamentations reveals is the place of that loss in our lives. Mourning a loved one can show us how close and meaningful our relationship was with that person. Love lost can demonstrate just how much we were prepared to love and to pour out our hearts for the sake of a wonderful cause or a beautiful person.
In a sense, this is another form of loss. This type of joyful grief is about change. Even change that is desired and positive can bring adjustments. There is the stress of learning new things, of adapting, of breaking old habits and of keeping the main thing the main thing. Change in a group can affect morale as different people attempt to adapt to change in different ways at the same time. Things can get messy.
We do not always realise how attached we were to the old ways of doing things until someone asks us to change. We might miss the old times; we may defend the status quo; we can find ourselves thinking irrational things like, “But I don’t want to do it that way!” Even when the new ways truly are better than the old, it can be hard to let go.
Changing jobs can give rise to joyful grief; the new job is promising, yet there are many rewarding aspects of the old job. Marriage can bring about joyful grief; one may miss parts of the single life while rejoicing in their married state. Even moving to a better location may yield stress such as culling one’s belongings and navigating a new area.
It is understandable to lament what is left behind, even if what lies ahead is far better.
- God’s Promises.
Ps 30:5: “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (NIV)
Now for the greatest joy of them all: the promise of God to bring us joy after a time of mourning. This is my favourite form of grief. (I know, it’s a little nuts.) It is a form of grief sweetened by the knowledge that this life is temporary, this pain is transient, and that permanent joy awaits us in an eternal home.
It can be hard to remember that our lives are fleeting from the perspective of eternity. It is also counter-cultural. These earthly experiences, these emotions, the culture in which we live is convincing and consuming. At times I forget that I’m only visiting this planet. But visitors we are, for God has an ever-lasting home waiting for us.
Sometimes I blow my own mind when I imagine what that heavenly joy will be like. I try to picture a joy so complete that the pain of my earthly life becomes totally forgettable. Imagine completely forgetting the burdens we are carrying right now. It seems impossible; and yet that is God’s eternal promise.
Heaven must be such a contrast to this earthy life, so much so that the author of Psalm 30 saw fit to compare them as with day to night. I look forward to arriving in Heaven and saying, “Weeping did endure for a while, but now joy has come.”
Next time: we will look at the nature of healing.