Sometimes we experience a sorrow so deep we don't know if we will feel joy again. We can't imagine ever not feeling the sorrow. The grief that some experience in this life can be immense and seem too great to endure. This world is a broken place where there is deep pain in the midst of the beauty that surrounds us.
Yet we have a God who makes it possible to experience joy in the midst of sorrow if we lean into him during the pain. Sometimes the joy that comes is experienced at a deeper level than before the pain. Through our suffering, we are brought into new emotional and spiritual spaces and can increase our capacity to receive the joy and healing that God wants to bring. The sorrow doesn't just "go away" but God makes it possible to experience peace and joy in the midst of grief.
This painting came together in an unusual way for me. I felt like I was supposed to paint it for a particular person. Usually I have ideas I want to communicate in my paintings. Often they are messages of encouragement that come out of my experiences or truths I want to focus on. But this painting was different. Maybe it’s for you.
I took the photograph this is based on a while back and when I looked at it one night I felt drawn to paint it for someone. As I was working on it I felt the sorrow and joy coming through simultaneously and I think it’s a message of encouragement for someone dealing with grief or sorrow.
Joy is coming out of your pain. Joy is there in the midst of your suffering. These two clouds were connected in my photo and I’ve added the rain drops to depict the sorrow. This joy is rising up from that pain and God is there in the midst of it.
Jesus said in John 16:22 “So with you: Now is your time of grief but I will see you again and you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy." Paul said in Romans 5: 2a &3: ”..And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so but we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know our sufferings produce perseverance; perseverance, character and character, hope.”
Going through struggle, loss and difficulty can draw us closer to the Lord and as we press in and continue believing even when we see no relief. We are changed from the inside out. I know for me, when I have been in the midst of fresh grief or struggle, it is a daily choice to pray and try to call out to the Lord even when I am not "feeling" him or seeing how he is working. But as I have done this I have seen him answer in bringing others to encourage me, bringing me to scriptures that feed my soul, feeling my burden lift and increasing my ability to view things from an eternal perspective.
There will always be tragedies we don't understand and loss that seems so unbearable. Our hope is in Christ and our future in heaven when there will be no more tears. Our joy today can come in blessings he brings into our lives and in seeing God's hand as we serve others. It can be when we experience that peace that passes all understanding.
We share in Christ's sufferings so we may also share in his glory ( Romans 8:17). Hope is present. Take each sorrow before him and allow him to carry you.
Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:10 that he was "sorrowful yet always rejoicing." Joy is not happiness. When we experience grief we need something greater. The joy God can bring is deep and peaceful. It doesn't take the pain away but it allows you to grow through it and draw closer. This painitng is a reminder that your pain will not last forever and God brings deep joy.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Matthew 5:4
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13
*all verses are taken from the NIV version of the Bible.