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Painful Joy

“In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.”

Elisabeth Elliott

My family is aware that I usually cry at good-byes. This last time, after our kids visited us, proved to be no different. I wept as I hugged each of them good-bye. Through tears, I told them how having them visit, made me realize how much I missed them.

After they drove away, I laid down on the rug and sobbed, reeling from experiencing loss all over again. I poured out my heart to the Lord as another wave of grief crashed upon the shore of my heart. And then the Comforter came. His presence was evident in the midst of my brokenness and He restored peace and hope to my soul. God seems to be the closest when I’m most broken. I then chose to believe the truth in Romans 8:18. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

As I laid there on the floor the words “painful joy” came to mind. I haven’t previously paired joy and loss together. But as I grieved, I also acknowledged the joy or contentment I have living in Wichita. That’s when God gave me revelation. It’s not either or, that you’re either grieving or experiencing joy. You can have both at the same time.

I renewed my act of surrender to God. Even though it’s painful because of the sacrifice of living away from my children, I told God I would do it all over again because He is worthy of my obedience. It’s the supremacy of Christ that I live for. “And He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (Colossians 1:18). God is to rule and reign and have first place in everything, even if it costs me something.

Painful joy is not an oxymoron. Loss and joy can coincide when God is in the middle of it. Choose to have God be the ultimate authority in your life, surrender to His supremacy and then embrace painful joy. Allow them to coexist.

“Even in the greatest afflictions, we ought to testify to God, that, in receiving them from His hand, we feel pleasure in the midst of the pain, from being afflicted by Him who loves us, and whom we love.”

John Wesley

Relevant Reflections:

  1. Describe a time when you experienced painful joy.

  2. In what area of your life do you need to surrender to the supremacy of Christ?

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