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Joy and Pain–Mutually Exclusive?

Holidays are a painful time for many. Loneliness, lack of family support, loss, financial challenges, war, can all interfere with the joy we might otherwise experience. Can one experience both joy and pain, or are they mutually exclusive?

Many celebrate this Easter season with hope. Those who believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ rest in the assurance of forgiveness of sins, a relationship with God, and the anticipation of eternal life.

But even with resurrection joy, there can be deep wells of pain.

My mother passed on April 4th three years ago.

  • The day before Palm Sunday, when 2000 years ago all Jerusalem seemed to welcome Jesus with palm branches and shouts of Hosanna.
  • Five days before Jesus was betrayed by a disciple, arrested, tortured, beaten and crucified.
  • A week before that Sunday many years ago, when Jesus rose from the dead, conquering it forever. As I just read in a meme showing the empty tomb, “The least successful lockdown of all time!”

But I grieved. Mom’s death felt like my heart was ripped from me. What I perceived as her struggle to let go was more unsettling to me than I had experienced with either my father’s or my first husband’s passings.  Not more grief, but more confusion, more questions, more uncertainty.

I knew Mom was ready to meet Jesus. In fact, she was eager, looking forward to the day with great anticipation. I have a picture of her telling one of her great-granddaughters why she looked forward to dying.

Joy and Pain in anticipation of end of life

And yet, her death process put me in an agony from which I didn’t begin to recover for over a year.

Deep Pain or Joy in A Daughter’s Grief Journey

I’m reading an amazing description of grief by the daughter of dear friends with whom I worked In the LA ghetto for ten years. Laura’s loss of her father, Fred, is a powerful statement to the grief and trust that can walk hand in hand. Throughout Laura’s very descriptive account of her grief journey, with no sugar coating her pain, she continues to say, “Abba, I belong to You.”

Pain and Joy in a Daughter’s Grief Journey

One of my favorite statements in the book is “Getting comfortable with questions is a step toward peace.”

It was when I could truly say “I don’t understand why my mother’s death was so difficult, but I trust the God who led her throughout her life, and He is faithful,” that healing began.

What’s Faith all About?

And I think that’s what faith is all about, isn’t it.

  • It’s not about having all the answers.
  • It’s not about feeling full of joy at all times.
  • It’s also not all about pain.
  • It’s not about understanding everything that happens around us, whether pain or joy.
  • It’s not about whether there is war or loss or sickness or suffering.

It’s about believing in the God who is with us through it all–Emmanuel!

A friend just sent this message.

Real love is when a man dies for you on the cross, to pay for your own sin. Knowing all too well that you might reject Him!

What grace!

Two thousand years ago, twelve disciples shared the Lord’s supper, commonly called communion. They felt the pain of Jesus’ words telling that He would soon be taken from them. They didn’t understand yet. But Jesus said,

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. I Corinthians 11:26

Two thousand years later, it’s estimated that two billion people around the world will partake in communion, remembering Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection to free us from the burden of sin and guilt we carry, both by birth and by our own choice. That’s astounding and wonderful. His truth has remained, and will remain, ‘til the end of time.

And we celebrate this, not because we have all the answers, but because we trust in the One who loved us enough to die in our place.

Trusting you’ve had a blessed Easter weekend, celebrating our risen and faithful Lord!



  1. Susan Jones says:

    Carol, is your book published yet? I want a copy when it is!
    Susan Jones

  2. Susan, I’m in the rewriting stage and will be sure you know when the book is published. I so appreciate your interest and prayers!

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