Friday, September 13, 2013
The sun’s heat pressed in closer on my skin. My feet found their rhythm and pounded the pavement. My thoughts raced faster than my running pace and I took in the morning’s surroundings. The ocean glimmered, reflecting the same summer sun that pressed in on me, my skin glimmering too. The birds squawked, trilled and chattered, signaling the new day. A fish jumped and I turned in time to see the rippling effect of its presence on the ocean waves.
It was stunning, a beautiful morning.
In my mind, I could hear the praise. The songs of the birds, the lapping of the ocean waves and the splash of the fish joined in the unending cry of ‘Holy Holy Holy’ in ways that only they could.
And I joined in the speech too. That speech that pours forth, day by day, declaring His glory (Ps. 19). I whispered His Name quietly under my breath. I spoke it over my wounded heart and up to the Heavens.
Out of sorrow, I could participate in the holy. Beautiful creation amid my journey of pain. Marvelous glory surrounding my run this morning.
I wasn’t entirely surprised by this wound, but it was raw nonetheless. I felt it deeply. It hurts more than the mile I’ve made it to.
We've met before. Sorrow that is...
But “in this life, we will have trouble” won’t we? And we should not be “surprised at the fiery trail” that has come our way. And sin is arrogant isn’t it? (Ps. 19) It deceives, blinds, destroys and separates. And we feel the weight of hurt and suffering as we groan for something greater (Romans 8).
And yet joy is ours (John 15:11). And we can live compelled by love, not a toxic dose of fear (2 Cor. 5:14). We can dare to hope again (Ps. 25).
We experience them both. And some days, in our prideful sense of entitlement, we act surprised by the sorrow that comes our way.
Sorrow and joy.
Sometimes they seem to go hand-in-hand. Joy can be experienced alongside of, in the midst of, and sometimes, dare I say it, even because of sorrow. Its presence is a reminder that we are fragile beings in desperate need of rescue and redemption in a broken world.
I see the two actors play in my life, tension over which character wins the applause before the curtain falls on my day.
Like the day I listened to a loved one share his dreams that had become reality. And a phone call later, I listened to another loved one share her dreams that had shattered, hopes vanquished in despair. Sorrow and joy.
Like a couple of weeks ago when my sister and I played like children outside, laughing until it hurt. And it felt good. And we meant it. And I didn’t want the moment to end. And right smack in the middle of that warm summer evening, text messages appeared from several loved ones, the jarring reminder of pending divorces and addictions. And I clutched a hand over my stomach to make the pit in it go away. And I cried. Sorrow and joy.
I see it in your life too.
A dance of heights and depths, lows and highs, feet stepping, twirling, stumbling. Grace your partner.
Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.
This is what I’m thinking about as I continue running, my legs feel heavier, and the beauty of creation still there. Like boomerangs circling my heart, joy and sorrow are inevitably coming my way. They are mere shadows of the One I see in my mind:
“For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.”
The most scared juxtaposition of sorrow and joy there could ever be. A holy cry of grief set in a context of finalizing triumph.
Glory in the Highest, spirit submitted to the lowest of lows, unspeakable suffering, joy still before Him.
And He dwells in you. And He dwells in me.
And a nail-pierced side of sorrow brings surprise and delight to a doubting man. And a nail-pierced hand upholds and saves. And the scars of sorrow mark the deliverance brought to all mankind.
Deliverance from sin and ourselves, yet sorrow and disappointment and loss still live on. There are still scars. But there is also joy. Right there in front of you and me. And there are promises awaiting fulfillment. And there are tears to be bottled up and songs of praise to be uttered from dry lips, needing to taste the Name that is sweeter than honey.
Sorrow is not exclusive of the practice of joy. Instead, our days are mingled with both. So press forward. And remember that the One who endured the greatest suffering for the joy set before Him is the One who is before you too.
Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.