Sorrowful Yet Always Rejoicing
My friend called me, his voice cracked, and I could hear the tears held back in his eyes. He asked me to walk down an old, familiar path with him, to shine a light into the dark corners that frighten and threaten to shake the very foundations of my own character.
Dark thoughts flooded his mind, years of struggling day after day, he was so tired, he simply wanted to be done. But my friend called me, and he asked me to remind him why men don’t quit, because he couldn’t remember, and he wanted to quit so desperately.
I reminded him of our hope and our reality, that we rejoice despite the reality of our sorrow. Then, when we got off the phone, I thought about it.
I wrote this for my friend, and he encouraged me to share it. He is watching to see what I will do, transparency is challenging. When I consider giving up, I remember who is watching.
We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
It can be so easy to believe this lie…
“No one knows what I’m going through, no one comprehends my situation.”
As if the unique elements of my experience assure that there is no overlap with anyone else’s experience, thus they can not comprehend nor speak into my experience.
I remember asking the question, “What does this mean, sorrowful yet always rejoicing?” Will it assist me? Can I attain it? What does it mean?
People lined up to tell me what it looks like.
But can you tell me what it feels like?
Take Femininity; as a man, I can tell you what it looks like.
But I can’t tell you what it feels like to be a woman.
It is likely that you are telling me something true, good, and important;
but I want to know what it feels like. I desire a conversation with someone who comprehends intellectually and emotionally.
When I believe this lie, it simply doesn’t seem that you can authentically tell me what it means, if you can’t tell me what it feels like.
What does it feel like, to be a soldier?
What does it feel like, to be a sailor?
What does it feel like, to be a fighter?
What does it feel like, to stand on the front lines of war?
What does it feel like, to see your best friends broken body laying before you and bleeding out, knowing that there is nothing you can do?
What does it feel like, when the fist connects with your temple?
What does it feel like, when the bullet rips your flesh?
What does it feel like, when the blade slices through you?
What does it feel like, to be a horrible husband?
What does it feel like, to be a terrible father?
What does it feel like, to experience your infant’s death in a warzone and keep drawing your own ragged breath, year after year?
What does it feel like, to hear a loud noise and crawl under a table while everyone else in the mall stares at you?
What does it feel like, to attempt to drown it all in alcohol, drugs, and distractions?
What does it feel like, to live in pain and fight depression?
What does it feel like, to flirt with suicidal tendencies and to court death?
What does it feel like, to be committed to a military mental institute, to watch the doors lock behind you and meet your roommates, who “survived” Vietnam?
What does it feel like?
Do you truly understand?
Can you speak to me of these things?
Do you know the answer to my questions?
I do. I can tell you exactly what it feels like.
Sometimes, it seems surreal when people attempt to tell me what it means, and they can’t tell me what it feels like. I find it hard to trust their descriptions of what it looks like because they don’t know what it feels like.
My savior stepped out of heaven, lived a perfect life, endured a perfectly agonizing torture to die a perfect death, and raised himself from the grave.
I don’t know what that feels like and yet I feel something in response to it.
I can tell you what His sacrifice feels like for me.
I can tell you what it feels like when God sacrifices Himself for the soldier, for the sailor, for the fighter, for the friend, for the husband, for the father that is me…
In the same way, though I can’t feel your pain, I can tell you what your pain to feels like to me.
What my love for you feels like to me.
And I can tell you what it looks like.
I can tell you what it means, and it means something important to me.
for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”
It means that I find it easy to trust that my own burdens are light, my own yoke is easy, in comparison to his redemptive work. Do you know what that feels like?
I can tell you what it feels like, to handle my sorrow!
I can tell you what if feels like, to wake up in the morning, looking forward to the new day!
I can tell you what it feels like, to overcome present pain and have victory over constant depression!
I can tell you what it feels like, to be transformed into a good and loving father!
I can tell you what it feels like, to step into the role of a godly husband!
I can tell you what if feels like, to have an abiding hope!
I can tell you what it feels like, to experience healing and watch scars fade!
I can tell you what it feels like, to be a warrior in the Kingdom of God!
I can tell you what if feels like, to have brothers in Christ!
I can tell you
…. what it feels like
…………. to have joy everlasting!
Can you tell me what it feels like, to live in between these two realities?
I can! I can tell you exactly what it feels like!
My every conscious moment is experiencing the overwhelming weight of the glory of his sacrifice to redeem me.
This is more than balancing out the experience of what my burdens feel like, and in the midst of my sorrow, it feels so very good that I share it and I rejoice!
December 14, 2017
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