My mind is cluttered with so many jagged thoughts. Tender emotions intermingled with practical tasks fight for my attention. I sip on a reheated cup of coffee made in a kitchen bursting with dirty dishes. The full dishwasher gleaming with clean dishes calls to me to be emptied so that we can start the cycle again. My still lit Christmas tree reflects my procrastination of packing it away for another year. It represents another holiday season interrupted by the death of someone I hold dear. My brother-in-law, Mike, passed away from liver cancer just after the new year. This is the tension I feel in a season wrapped in sadness and joy.
I’m thankful for those who have written about holding both of these extremes at one time. But this is nothing new. Jesus wholeheartedly understood this human condition. He lived a synergy of joy and sorrow throughout His ministry.
In Matthew 14 we read of the death of John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin. John’s purpose was fulfilled, but he left this world after suffering in jail and then a humiliating death. Imagine the pain Jesus felt as he comprehended this loss.
Jesus tried to withdraw to privately mourn His cousin but the crowd found HIm. HIs compassion fueled His ministry to them. Jesus healed, taught, and fed the five thousand that day. John was not rescued but the crowd was miraculously fed. Matthew 14 reflects the tension between joy and grief beautifully.
The depth of my grief is a reflection of the size of the love I’ve experienced. There is a beautiful comfort in that. My prayer for you as you navigate this new year, is for you to see beauty in your joys and receive comfort in your pain. May the Holy Spirit bring balance to you as you face pain and embrace joy.