When Joy and Sorrow Meet

So often the Christian life is a mix of joy and sorrow.

Life and death intermingle. Death for the Christ-follower is the beginning of a new and joyous life with Christ in the heavenly eternity. Our lives here on earth are but a breath in light of eternity.

Yesterday was one of those mixed up days for me. Sunday night, Bill and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. Afterwards I couldn’t seem to fall asleep and was laying in bed scrolling through Facebook.

Around 1am, I received a text and a phone call that three children of an Indian missionary that we love and support were killed in a house fire in Collierville where they were staying for Christmas break, along with the mother, Kari, of the family that was hosting them. Kari is the wife of our youth leader, as well as a friend and fellow homeschooling mom. Kari’s husband and youngest son were also home, but they escaped the fire through a second-story window.

All I could think was, “No, No, No. God, it just doesn’t make any sense. Why would you let this happen? Why, God, why?”

That morning at 7 am, I was scheduled to teach English online to my favorite little Chinese student. Before the class began, with my heart reeling, I saw his excited little face appear on screen. Suddenly, he began to play “Silent Night” in English for me. Tears began to roll down my cheeks as I just soaked in the mix of joy and sorrow. For that brief moment I reflected on the deep joy and sorrow in the mix of Christ’s arrival on earth, cloaked in the form of a human child, destined to die for the sins of man.

I moved through Christmas Eve Day with our family in a state of shock, all the while knowing that my son had a special surprise in store for us later that day. Yesterday afternoon, my oldest son, Nick, proposed to his incredible girlfriend, Kristen, and she accepted. Our hearts rejoiced with the hope of a coming wedding, but the joy was tinged with grief as I sat thinking of the grieving families who were missing their mom, and missing their children. How could I be happy when so many of my brothers and sisters are in the throes of despair?

Maybe you’ve had times like these, too. Times where joy and sorrow meet. Times where God has given and taken away in such close succession. It happens often in our broken world. I remember when my sister’s second son, Matthew, was born, only for her first son to die the very next day. I remember when my grandmother died, December 12, 2006, only to learn 2 weeks later on Christmas Day that I was expecting our youngest son, Daniel.

I guess we all have a choice to make. Will I believe that God is good, loving and sovereign? Will I choose to praise Him for bringing me through 24 years of marriage and blessing my son with a lovely bride? Or will I say that God is mean, uncaring and distant for the deaths of these saints?

Like the towel I stitched for a Christmas gift, I choose to say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) This is a choice, a covenant, a faith of hope in the coming future. I will choose to trust Him, and His word. I will speak to my own soul, and to yours, “God is trustworthy and good.”

He sent His only Son, Jesus, into this broken world to save sinners like me. Praise His Holy Name. This Christmas Day and every day to come.