Pain and joy. It’s an odd combination. And one would assume that they are mutually exclusive from each other. To have pain doesn’t mean joy can’t be present. To have joy doesn’t mean you are without suffering. It’s a paradox and part of the contradiction of life.
Both pain and joy have their rightful places if we are to live authentic honest lives. We need to know that there is a place for broken hallelujahs with God. We have permission to feel more than one thing, and even opposing forces at the same time. It’s not either or.
God gives us a blueprint for this in the Bible. We are shown through the books of Psalms, Ecclesiastes and Lamentations in the Bible that it is ok to feel our feelings. To feel what you need to feel, to dig into the dark spaces and acknowledge the pain. But to also look for the goodness that is also present. To seek the joy.
Five years on from Oscar’s birth I hold the tension of pain and joy. Sometimes simultaneously feeling pain and joy. Joy at him achieving a milestone, pain that it was so long in coming or hard to do. Life is harder for Oscar. Harder to learn tasks, harder to be understood and to understand. It takes him more effort to do things other children do so easily. But there are beautiful moments too. When he wipes the tears from the cheeks of a brother who has had a hard day at school. When he sneaks up behind you to yell boo and then break in laughter. Or when he climbs into your lap for a cuddle.
In life, there is often pain and joy, held together. It is not either, it is “and”. But in our broken hallelujahs, in the tension of joy and pain residing together, God holds us.