When we struggle and when we rejoice {The Chaos and Beauty of the Co-Mingling}

Count the moments when you ONLY felt pure joy. They are few and far between. Count the days when grief was so overwhelming that there wasn’t even a moment of a rainbow. Also, praise God, those days do not occur often.

Yet, I’ve experience both. You too have undoubtedly walked through the rainbow and the flood. 

Joy, pure and simple, oozed from every moment of the day that Abby’s pregnancy test turned clearly positive.

Grief, strong and hard, weighed down the hours when a dear friend tried to commit suicide, a baby bled from my body, a grandparent suddenly and unexpectedly breathed their last.

Yet, usually, the harmony is in the co-mingling of the serenity and the sorrow. 

The days this year that I miss my Grandpa Bill, yet smile as I think of him holding my little ones in Heaven.

The moments that I worry about our finances and living situation, yet remind myself that it doesn’t matter…I’m having a baby, and God will provide. 

It’s the melody of living with the harmony of Heaven. Chaos and Beauty. 

Today I awoke to a fellow blogger’s post about a positive pregnancy test after months and months of infertility and sorrow. She is the second this week to post such news. I lay in bed with a huge grin on my face.

Tomorrow we may all be grieving some catastrophe yet unseen, yet unfelt, yet unknown.

But, today. 

Today, can we rejoice? Can we rejoice in the goodness of this week of Advent preparation, leading up to the moments of celebration surrounding the humble birth of a Jewish Savior?

Ann Voskamp writes in The Greatest Gift, “Struggling and rejoicing are not two chronological steps, one following the other, but two concurrent movements, one fluid with the other. As the cold can move you deeper toward the fire, struggling can move you deeper toward God, who warms you with joy. Struggling can deepen joy. Even though. Even now….The secret of joy is always a matter of focus: a resolute focusing on the Father, not on the fears. All fear is but the notion that God’s love ends. When does He ever end? When you can’t touch bottom is when you touch the depths of God” (p. 189).

This has been true of 2013. Perhaps one of the most painful years of my life. Perhaps also one of the most joyful.

I am learning to rejoice. Even when. Even then. Even there. Even now. Even if.

Two of my best friends found out that they were pregnant this past summer several weeks before I saw my first positive. In a journey through infertility of over three years, this was not an uncommon occurrence. Yet, this time, it was two of the women nearest and dearest to my heart. Two of the women with whom I am committed to experiencing the ups and downs of life. Two of the women to whom I can’t lie.

And I felt God ask me, “Can you rejoice even now? Even if you aren’t pregnant?

For maybe the first time, I honestly said, “Yes.” “Yes, Lord, I can enter into their happiness even if my body remains empty.”

Several weeks later, I was pregnant. 

This was not a magic formula. I’m sure I haven’t passed the “joy test” to never face it again. It may be one of my life-long struggles. I’m not pregnant because I mastered this test.

But, I am thankful. I’m thankful that for once I surrendered to the power of the chaos. The co-mingling. The beauty and the pain. The sorrow and the struggle. I said, “Yes, Lord.”

John Newton wrote, “Assurance grows by repeated conflict…When we have been brought very low and helped, sorely wounded and healed, cast down and raised again…and when these things have been repeated to use and in us a thousand times over, we begin to learn to trust simply to the word and power of God.”

Christmas week can be one of the most painful for many. Christmas Eve four years ago I received some of the worst news of my life. Christmas brings back the hurt of broken families, the pain of lost loved ones, the absence of plenty in a season of drought.

Christmas can also bring life. Not magically. Not in mistletoe and mugs of hot chocolate.

But, in sorrow. In humble acceptance. In the choosing of joy. 

Let’s listen to the harmony of Heaven.

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