You know, the Christian life is really a paradox....and so is the thought of having joy when your heart is breaking. I love this quote from A. W. Tozer: "A real Christian is an odd number anyway. He feels supreme love for One whom he has never seen, talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see, expects to go to Heaven on the virtue of Another, empties himself in order to be full, admits he is wrong so he can be declared right, goes down in order to get up, is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is poorest, and happiest when he feels worst. He dies so he can live, forsakes in order to have, gives away so he can keep, sees the invisible, hears the inaudible, and knows that which passeth knowledge."
Experiencing sorrow does not need to eliminate joy. In fact, I've come to believe that experiencing deep sorrow only broadens our capacity for true joy. For me personally, experiencing deep sorrow has expanded my ability to feel everything deeply. I have felt sadder than I have ever thought possible, sadder than I have ever thought I would be able to survive, but that has prepared me to experience a more satisfying and solid joy than ever before...a durable, "rugged joy", formed through suffering. It is not a joy produced by pleasant circumstances...it is a joy that can only be given by the Holy Spirit in the middle of difficult circumstances.
We have a large dogwood tree in our yard, just off the corner of our deck. In all the springs we've lived in this house, it has bloomed beautifully...covered with gorgeous white blossoms...until last spring. Last spring, that tree hardly bloomed at all. It was the strangest thing...there were only two or three blossoms on the entire tree. It leafed out as usual and seemed healthy all summer...it just seemed to skip straight from buds to leaves. It was almost as if that tree was grieving Hannah's passing right along with us. I clearly remember thinking that last year. This spring...well, I took a picture of it today. See for yourself.
What a beautiful picture of renewal! And what a perfect illustration of Psalm 30:5, "Weeping may go on for the night, but joy comes in the morning." Is our weeping over? No...not by a long shot. But there is joy in the morning...Praise God!