Experiencing Joy in a Struggling World

Yesterday, after awkwardly attempting to share the story of why I believe that our house was such a gift from God, I found out about 2 separate tragic deaths. Both are far enough removed from me that it doesn’t really make sense for me to be grieving, but they really hit me hard. I found myself looking around the house that I am so grateful for and excited by, if sometimes concerned or worried about(hey I’ve never lived in an old house before 😂) and wondering how do I experience this joy, when somewhere in the world these people are shattered with unimaginable grief.

On a grander scale, what about all of those people suffering with COVID, or pregnancy loss, or any number of awful circumstances. Yet here I am, immensely grateful and joyful to be snuggling my babies in our own home. Of course, as someone with both scrupulousity and anxiety, my brain starts to ask, what horrible thing is going to happen to us now-it’s not fair for us to be okay.

I’ve been in therapy for a long time now though, and something I have learned is to give myself time and a little distance from these thoughts, so I tried to rest as much as I can. Then, I was looking at this collection of historical pictures. There were tragic war pictures, people balancing on tall skyscrapers, a woman painting the outside of her house with elaborate flowers, and more. What hit me the most was that the pictures were all extraordinary, but some of them were extraordinary because they were devastating, and some were because they were amazing.

That reminded me of something my therapist is always saying “learn to live in the grey.” What that means is that, things are not all black and white. The world is not all bad, and it is not all good. It is both. The world is full of unimaginable beauty and unimaginable pain, and everything between and it all exists together in this strange incomprehensible mix of suffering and happiness.

That brought me to the book of Job. Job’s stories is used as short hand for a lot of things, and it is understood in a lot of different ways, but one thing that is definitely present is that at the end of the book, when God enters the conversation after Job questions His justice, “Who is this that obscures divine plans with words of ignorance? Gird up your loins now, like a man; I will question you and you tell me the answers. Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me if you have understanding. Who determined its size; Do you know? Who stretched out the measuring line for it? Into what were its pedestals sunk, and who laid the corner stone, while all the morning stars sang in chorus and all the sons of God(angels) shouted for joy?”

The rest of Job 38, as well as 39,40,and 41 are filled with all the magnificent and grand things God does, everything from leading Leviathan(an enormous sea monster) around on a leash(serious pet dog vibes here) to creating horses, to sneezing light, and setting coals on fire with his breath. “Will we have arguing with the Almighty by the critic? Let Him who would correct God give answer?” Job’s responds once that he will cover his mouth and not speak of it again, and God only continues for a chapter longer.

Finally, Job answers, “I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be hindered. I have dealt with great things that I do not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know. I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you. Therefore, I disown what I have said and repent in dust and ashes.”

My instinct when I witness unimaginable pain is to get angry at God and exclaim that what He is doing is unfair. When I first read this chapter, I felt called out and even scared, but since then it has helped me to live in the grey I talked about before. What God has given us here(whether it was by inspiring the author or if he really did say these things,) is an out. He’s letting us know, hey, there are things going on that are way bigger than you, more than you could ever comprehend or understand.

In the New Testament, Jesus came to let us know that He sees our pain and He cares deeply, but Job’s story allows us to realize that we don’t understand the reason for everything, even when the part we can see sucks. And sometimes it sucks so, so bad. So, if you are hurting today, turn to the all-powerful and magnificent God who can lead sea monsters around like they are puppies, who came down to earth and suffered to show us that He loved us enough to feel the pain we feel, and try to live in the grey between the two unimaginable beauty, the unimaginable pain, and the glorious everything in between. ♥️♥️♥️

Also, I’m praying for you. ♥️

Recommended song for listening to in this mood: It’s Quiet Uptown from Hamilton

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