Yesterday should have been my twentieth wedding anniversary. I had planned to be celebrating with a cruise to the Caribbean or something of the like. Instead I found myself surrounded by waters not so tropical. After a long day at work I came home to an empty house and a shaggy lawn. Hot as it was I got out the mower and tackled it. By the time I was done I was sweaty and approaching grumpy (heat does that to me) so I grabbed a floatie and jumped in the pool.
Normally our small pool is not relaxing. Fun? Yes. But relaxing? Not so much. With 4 very energetic kids anytime I get in the pool I’m just hoping to survive. But yesterday was different. The kids are visiting their dad for the week so it was just me in the pool.
It was one of those perfect summer days. The sky was a blue as it gets with big whiter than white clouds. The birds were chirping and feasting and providing silly entertainment and the trees were dancing in the slight breeze. As I laid there floating I thought to myself that at that exact moment I was blissfully happy.
How is that even possible?
Last Sunday we studied the connection between joy and anguish. They are strangely tied together all through scripture. In our lesson Beth Moore was talking about how sometimes God morphs our anguish into joy. Literally turning one into the other.
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy
Only God can do that. Only God can reach into the depths of our despair and transform pain into praise. Only God can take what was broken and create beauty. Only God can birth joy out of sorrow.
A lot of times I think we believe that we either have one or the other. We must be joyful or sad. Broken or whole. Hurting or healed. But maybe the secret is that in our hearts there is room for both. I think of Jesus weeping as He walked to raise His friend from the dead. Of Jesus embracing the cross for the Joy set before Him. And I wonder… can joy and anguish co-exist?
Angie Smith in her book Bring the Rain which she wrote after the death of her fourth child said “Grief and joy danced together as if they had the right to.” And don’t they? Don’t grief and joy often go hand in hand. Beauty and ashes. Joy and mourning. Praise and despair. Because in the sorrow, in the darkness, there is always God. And He is the source of Joy. Joy was there when Steven looked up from the pile of stones surrounding him and saw His Savior’s face. Joy was there with Paul & Silas as praise filled their hearts and their prison. Joy, surrounded by sorrow.
Today grief and joy dance together, because they have a right to.