Joy Through Pain

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2-3 (NIV)

Recently, God has been teaching me about joy in spite of pain, sorrow and trials. It’s a new concept to me. Before I was set free, I could ignore the pain and fool myself that everything was fine. God doesn’t want us to shove our emotions down or deny our pain. Rather, he wants us to see the joy in spite of our pain. Sometimes the tears that roll down my face are tears of joy and sometimes sorrow. No longer in denial, I can’t seem to stop their flow.

Reading Paula’s heartfelt post about joy on Grace Reign got me thinking more about this particular type of joy and I’ve framed some precious, painful memories that bring me joy.

Christmas Eve 1996, my precious Gramma T. lay in the hospital dying of cancer. She had but a few days. I flew in from out of state to be by her side. Gramma directed me to lie down on the bed beside her. “I knew you’d come,” she stated as she stroked my hair. I was eight years old again and losing one of the most important people in my life, but there was intense joy.

I didn’t leave the hospital when Gramma was dying. I wanted to be there for her birth into heaven the way she was for my birth into this world. The morning Gramma died, I woke up for no apparent reason. Our eyes met and we shared a smile that said, “I love you.” Two hours later, she was gone. Precious joy.

When Gramma was first diagnosed, my then twelve-year-old daughter said, “Mom, she isn’t dying, she’s moving.” Joy. After Gramma moved, we went out to breakfast and told funny love filled stories. More joy.

September 27, 2001, while the world was still reeling from 9-11, we had our own crisis. Our son was riding his bike to school and was hit by a car. His neck was fractured; he was in ICU and had been in traction for several days. I could see the pain he was in.
“I wish I could trade places with you,” I told him tearfully.
“Ah, Mom, you couldn’t handle it,” he countered.
That’s when I knew he would be all right.
In 2002, my doctors found a lump on my thyroid they were convinced was cancerous. Faced with death, I set out to rid my life of the things that were unfulfilling. My job was the first to go. When I cut out the superfluous things that were weighing me down, I felt such release and joy! Oddly, when the biopsy reports came back benign, I wasn’t as joyful as when I discovered that was really important in my life.
Though Gramma H. was in an Alzheimer’s unit, she remembered my name and recognized me when I went to see her. I think it was the photo book Mom made with everyone’s names listed below their snapshot.
There was a special kind of joy caring for my FIL in his last days on earth. While he could still talk, he told me, “You and I have always had a great deal of respect for one another.” Confirming joy.
Letting go is never easy. Releasing the kids is harder than I expected. We raised them to be strong and independent (like their parents). Knowing we did our job right, that’s the joy. Letting them go, that’s the pain. Seeing them so happy – even more joy. Two weddings this summer – double all of the above.
Pictures above are my accessories of each kids wedding and the invitations. Notice the unique difference in the two.
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4 thoughts on “Joy Through Pain

  1. I could have wrote the majority of this. That’s what He’s teaching me too. Joy in spite of the pain, sorrow and trails. one thing that brings me joy… hanging out with friends… and if it’s at starbucks, all the better!

  2. Count me in as well. The night I met Tonya she told me God wanted me to have “Joy in my Journey”. She said a lot of things to me that night, but this is one of the things I’ve been focusing on the most since that night. I find it very interesting that God moves a group of people to struggle through issues together. He’s good at changing the scenery and the people as He sees fit and as we need it. I’m hoping to catch a “meeting” at Starbucks with you girls sometime! 😉

  3. Hey Jan,You are a born writer. I enjoyed the blog J! Thank you for the encouragement about joy in the pain. I haven’t done very well with that as the trials have gotten more frequent and severe. I need to remember the lesson in order to push through to the other side.

The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. - Psalm 34:19

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