Grief and joy. Complete opposites, right? You might think that one can’t exist at the same time as the other.
I used to think so until I had some real experience with the two. Now I know how closely related they can be.
When I lost my baby to miscarriage, I experienced suffering and grief in a deeper way than I had ever before. My heart broke to have a piece of me—a child uniquely designed by God and loved by our family—taken away. Yet, through the tears, I found myself surrendering to God and trusting in Him more deeply than I ever had. I found myself cherishing the other precious souls in my care even more and appreciating the gift of their lives in a new way. I also found that my desire for eternity—a place where God and my beautiful baby were waiting for me—had grown more fervent.
As I reflected on all of these fruits of my suffering, I realized that God had given me the gift of joy even in the hardest of times.
It’s important to note the difference between happiness and joy. Our culture might find the two indistinguishable, but that’s not the case. Happiness is a fleeting feeling. We can be happy about an ice cream cone or a good joke. Joy goes much deeper than that. Joy is in our soul, it’s not shaken by emotions or passing experiences but is rather developed through knowing and accepting love from our Creator.
Do we experience happiness when something tragic or unimaginable happens? No. But can we find joy in the midst of brokenness and grief? Absolutely.
When we find grief and joy intersecting, there can also be guilt involved. How can I be joyful when I should be grieving? How can I grieve when I have so many reasons to be joyful? This thinking tries to separate the two and ends up making us more confused and hurt than before.
Grief and joy can coexist, and there is no rulebook for how they should work. Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to feel both. God is with us in the grief, and likewise in joy. Allow Him to walk with you every step of the way.
As my family anticipates the birth of our baby, the grief of our previous loss doesn’t just disappear. Both children are with me on this journey—the one growing in my womb and the one interceding for us from heaven. Grief and joy, both so very tangible, at times almost overwhelming me with emotion. But I see God’s work in every moment of our story. He is the author of your story, too.