today it just hits me all of a sudden that joy and suffering are not mutually exclusive. maybe joy is this rare jewel that exists in the heart of suffering.
so yeah, I’ve never seen suffering like I have in the last few weeks. I work with kids every day here at school and sometimes others through the phone and I see pain every day and for some reason lately it’s like there’s been ten times more. I’m not sure why. I’ve never wiped more tears and listened for so many hours. and in the middle of it all, I’ve started to have eyes that only see the pain. I see it on their faces, in their eyes, and I hear it in their voices and it’s been killing me.
it’s seemed so hard to have too much joy when the pain is so great. like is it really fair for me to choose joy when they’re breaking? when there is so much pain to feel— not just in the lives I know but in billions I don’t even know anything about?
but maybe the joy exists in the very depths of this pain because it is here that Jesus meets us. it’s into this mess of abuse and tears and cutting and depression and loneliness that He steps in and says, “I love you. now, then, and forever.”
and He stays. He holds those who let Him. He waits for the ones who aren’t ready. and He sends people who can love for Him into the lives of the ones who need to see Him impersonated.
and maybe that’s the joy I get to carry in my heart. sure, I see pain and sometimes that breaks me. but the beauty is the Gift I carry in me that turns my life itself into a gift.
because when He sends me into the depths of pain and I get to listen and wipe tears, He’s literally sending redemption right into the middle of the mess. He’s sending Himself. He’s saying, “here’s brokenness that I am already redeeming. here’s pain that I am touching and wounds that I am healing, and I am sending those very wounds into the middle of your wounds so that she can touch yours for me and love your broken places. and when you see her, maybe you will see that redemption is real. because I am fulfilling my promise to her and that is the only reason she can stand here in the dark with you right now. and this? this is the gospel. this is who I am. watch, because I can do this for you too. that’s why I sent you her.”
and so maybe it does break my heart in a thousand pieces to see their pain, but maybe I can’t forget that there is redemption right here in the mess. that there is grace and love here in this brokenness that is deeper than if there had been no pain at all.
that my Jesus heals wounds. that He restores joy. that He gives back time. that He makes gold out of ashes. that He makes all things beautiful.
and that when He has— while He does— He takes that gold He is making and sends it back into the ashes to remind us all of the power of His love. to show us that He is working.
I know joy right here and now because His very action of letting me stand in the darkness to hold hurting hearts is proof He is making true His promise to me to heal my heart and bind up my wounds.
and this? this is why I can smile and sing praises after hearing another story that breaks my heart. this is why I believe that He is healing me when my own wounds keep me awake at night.
this is how I know that He is good and that His mercy is enduring forever.
this is redemption. this is the gospel. this is how my Jesus loves.
this is joy in the crucible of pain.