What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
― John Steinbeck
Bewildered by the Beloved Siblings, Joy and Sorrow
I can’t stop thinking about our conversation last week: Why We Need Winter’s Wisdom.
Maybe it is the fact that I’m in the winter season, both literally and figuratively—it’s January in Virginia and January in my physical body—as I am recovering from back surgery, an enforced eight to twelve week “hibernation” of sorts. For a mover and shaker, stillness is something I continually have to practice.
The one thought that keeps rolling around in my heart and head being, “Today the snow is falling. Winter is tucking us all in. Making us look at the bare bones of our lives. Asking us to strip away all the layers we have on and get to our core purpose—our undecorated, hard, and stripped of its finery—selves. Reminding us that the deeper our sorrow, the wider our capacity for joy. This is painful, yes, but soon—at Winter’s end—new growth will come and overwhelm us with unimaginable joy.”
The real kicker question that has held me captive?
Do I have to experience deep sorrow in order to experience greater joy?
What the Bible Seems to Say
I’ve taken some time to look in my favorite, most trusted resource, the Bible, and it seems to link Joy and Sorrow on many occasions: Psalm 30:11; Isaiah 61:1-3; Jeremiah 31:13; John 16:20, to name a few. But, it is Isaiah 61:3 (The Voice Bible) that really grabbed hold of me:
As for those who grieve over Zion,
God has sent me to give them a beautiful crown in exchange for ashes,
To anoint them with gladness instead of sorrow,
to wrap them in victory, joy, and praise instead of depression and sadness.
People will call them magnificent, like great towering trees
standing for what is right.
They stand to the glory of the Eternal
who planted them.“
When I read through this endearing prose, I am sincerely afraid that the answer to my deep question is, “Yes.”
There seems to always be a direct DIVINE transaction that takes place:
For those who grieve…a beautiful crown in exchange for ashes.
Gladness instead of sorrow.
Victory, joy and praise instead of depression and sadness.
And the end result? “People will call them magnificent, like great towering trees standing for what is right. Standing for the glory of the Eternal who planted them.”
One More Confirmation
And, it seems God knew I needed yet one more confirmation to validate my suspicions. I woke up early today and grabbed my phone—where I have a folder of my favorite devotions. This morning, I clicked on E. B. Cowman’s Streams in the Desert, one rich in not only great thought, but great story. Bare with the “Old English Style,” it is worth the read. It seems to wrap our quest for Winter’s Wisdom up with a beautiful satin ribbon:
Oh, the sweetness that dwells in a harp of many strings,
While each, all vocal with love in a tuneful harmony rings!
But, oh, the wail and the discord, when one and another is rent,
Tension less, broken and lost, from the cherished instrument.
For rapture of love is linked with the pain or fear of loss,
And the hand that takes the crown, must ache
with many a cross;
Yet he who has never a conflict, wins never a victor’s palm,
And only the toilers know the sweetness of rest and calm.
Only between the storms can the Alpine traveler know
Transcendent glory of clearness, marvels of gleam and glow;
Had he the brightness unbroken of cloudless summer days,
This had been dimmed by the dust and the veil
of a brooding haze.
Who would dare the choice, neither or both to know,
The finest quiver of joy or the agony thrill of woe!
Never the exquisite pain, then never the exquisite bliss,
For the heart that is dull to that can never be strung to this.”
There it is: Never the exquisite pain, then never the exquisite bliss.
What Does This Say to Us, Today?
In terms that I can really relate to: Because I have walked through some hard times, as I know you have, the good times seem even sweeter, don’t they? Most recently, the three-four days post surgery, when I felt like I sincerely wanted to roll over and die because of the the intense, throbbing pain…make TODAY even sweeter, because the pain is lifting and I actually see a light at the end of my tunnel. The air feels lighter and I have a spring in my step. I appreciate life MORE than ever before.
I don’t know if any of this makes any sense to you, but it sure does to me. I’m failing to find the words, but I pray that God speaks in-between them all. If you are in a winter season of bleakness, please hang on. I know that I know God is bringing you into a spring season of bliss.
Email any prayer requests you might have: firstname.lastname@example.org.
AND, please join our private Facebook Friday Group, Be Remarkable Women, where we carry on the conversation we start here. Just email me and I’ll add you in: email@example.com.
P.S. Feel free to share this! The more the merrier. I want as many women as possible to live the remarkable life God created for them.