Last night, SHW and I read, amazingly enough, yesterday's devotion from Christ our Hope a set of meditations from Henri J.M. Nouwen. Now that I look it up, I see it was Monday's - we read two to catch up. Anyway, it was all about the mix of joy and sorrow. It came to mind to me this morning as those "swift and varied changes" run rampant here at St. Paul's, as sorrow and unhappiness meet, there True Joy must still be found.
"For his anger is but for a moment;
his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
but joy comes with the morning. - Psalm 30.5
"Joy is essential to spiritual life. Whatever we may think or say aobut God, when we are not joyful, our thoughts and words cannot bear fruit. Jesus reveals to us God's love so that his joy may become ours and that our joy may become complete. Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing -sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war or even death - can take that love away.
"Joy is not the same as hapiness. We can be unhappy about many things, but joy can still be there becasue it comes form the knowledge of God's love for us. We are inclined to think that when we are sad we cannot be glad, but in the life of a God-centered person, sorrow and joy can exist together. Taht isn't easy to understand, but when we think about some of our deepest life experiences, such as being present at the birth of a child or the death of a friend, great sorrow and great joy are often seen to be parts of the same experience.
"In a world hobbled by pain and distress, loving Lord, help me experience the joy of your unconditional love." (page 19, emphasis mine)
I have yet to experience the birth of a child, but I've sat and watched with families as dear, dear people have breathed their last. There is that mixture of relief, joy, grief, and pain all wrapped up together, but as the waves slow down and catching our breath becomes easier, the joy of unconditional love always overwhelms.