If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you’ll have quickly noticed a perhaps unintentional yet recurring theme: hope and joy despite grief and pain.
More than once, I have heard believers critical of others for being open about their emotional difficulties, citing supposed bitterness or perhaps lack of spiritual toughness (“you need to get over it and just live for God….”).
At the close of 2020, is there any doubt we have all been filled with pain at some level? You have read the news, perhaps received a positive test, your plans and hopes have been dashed, your carefully jotted agenda has been thrown out the window. And that has just been this year, politically especially.
Yet before all this, you have known sorrow. You have suffered loss. You’ve lost a child, a miscarriage, a wayward son. You’ve met with financial strain, mounting debt. Health needs have left you grasping for hope. You have been hurt by your brothers, spiritual and blood. You’ve known loneliness and heartache.
It is foolish to sweep it all away. We are children of the Man of Sorrows. He wept at a grave, over a city, in a garden. Have you not as well? His sorrow has made Him that High Priest who has been “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” And so in His tender love, he calls us to follow his steps of pain. Why?
There is a beautiful circle in this place. It is a circle made of gold, tried by fire. It is wreathed with myrrh and frankincense, a divine blend of bitterness tempered with sweetness. There is Christ, the Man of Sorrows who fills us with comfort because He has felt our pain. With great care, He brings another believer to us who has grieved similarly. We can point them back to Christ. We can share His love to us. To see them blessed through our trial eases the sharpness of the wound. They in turn help someone else, filling them also with the love of the Man of Sorrows. And round and round the circle His people flow, always back to the One who bore our griefs and carried our sorrows.
Our trials are precious. There is no shame in grief.
But there is a beautiful promise found in Ecclesiastes 5:20. I find it particularly lovely in our Spanish Bible: “he won’t remember much about the days of his life; for God will fill his heart with joy.”
As we consider the last 5, 10, 15 years of our lives, an incredible phenomenon occurs. The world calls it rose colored lenses. The Bible calls it a heart filled with God and His joy.
Do we know x, y, z occurred in our lives? Of course. I recall weeping on a metal chair in NICU, sobbing flat face on my bed, shedding tears on a lawn chair under a nance tree. But shining brilliantly over the dull, fading aches of life is God. The God of my love. The One who has been so faithful. Who has poured in oil and wine and bound up my wounds. The One who constantly tells me to place my fingers in the prints on His hands, my fist in His resurrected side. I see His provision in so many ways; I have begun to see the greater why. He has taught me joy through pain and the hope of this just being “a little while”.
So take heart. At some point 2020 will fade into the archives along with 2000 and 1954. In the meantime, the trials of the past 12 months will be of excellent value for years to come as we complete the circle again and again, pointing always to the Man of Sorrows who fills our hearts with joy.
Wishing you every blessing. See you next year!!