Pain is not the enemy of joy.
This is my latest revelation. Frankly, it’s probably my most significant revelation since Judson became ill 2 years ago. I have been wrestling with this idea quite a bit the last several days.
As I have spoken in various settings about our journey, I have often shared about the importance of pain in our sanctification as Christians; I have slowly been coming to grips with the reality that God has chosen to work in my life, bringing about his purposes, through my heartache. I desperately wish it did not have to be this way, but nonetheless, I have begun to accept my pain as essential to my journey toward wholeness. God has clearly been at work in my heart and moving me into deeper relationship and reliance on Him through our suffering.
But although I have sincerely embraced the inherent value of my heartache for my eternal good, I have at the same time, almost despised it for my earthly living. I have felt captive in my pain, as though I’ve been facing a lifetime as a prisoner to it, never again to experience the full joy of life.
Something has been amiss.
Although I have certainly tasted and even spoken of the intermingling of joy and pain, my deepest feelings have reflected a belief that joy and pain function in opposition to one another—pain being the antithesis of joy. In many ways, I have operated as if their relationship is antagonistic, as though my heartache has volitionally sought to thwart my joy…even crush it!
But pain is not the enemy of joy.
My joy cannot eradicate my pain, but neither can my pain wipe out or rob me of my joy. They are not seeking to conquer one another like hostiles in combat battling to gain full occupation of my heart; they are not foes. I am beginning to recognize that healthy living requires that my pain and joy learn to peacefully coexist. They must function together, hand in hand. It is clear that joy cannot diminish my pain and loss, but it is also clear that my joy cannot be held prisoner by my pain. As I begin to accept and expect pain and joy to be allies, it will enable me to experience more of the fullness of life. In fact, my heartache can even sweeten my joy!