A building crumbled. A 24-year-old construction worker who was remodeling an old store into a new Lewis Drug buried under the rubble. A 22-year-old woman who lived in an upstairs apartment also buried.
Three and a half hours the girl was trapped, not knowing if she was upside down or right-side up. Hope hung on as she connected with her parents and workers by phone. Cheers, fist thumps, and high fives as the girl is rescued in good condition.
But the mood soon sobered again as the caring, dedicated rescue workers carefully kept searching for the man who was buried deeper. Hoping against hope. A search dog was brought in, and an area was targeted. Seven hours after the collapse, he was found. No life left.
So many mixed emotions in a few hours. Shock and grief but praying and hanging desperately onto hope. Elation and gratitude as God worked a miracle. Fear and a deep foreboding about the life of the construction worker. Then grief and disappointment. And ripped-apart hearts for the family who would have a missing place this Christmas.
One family can celebrate life spared. Another must grieve a life snatched away.
It baffles me. How can joy and grief mix together?
My heart rejoiced that the girl was alive. But after the loss of the other life, the miracle of life didn’t seem as special any more. Well, it still was, of course. But the joy of it drained away and seemed out of my grasp when another family was devastated with the loss of a loved one.
Pain. Loss. Devastation. Everywhere. In our hearts. In our families. In our world. How does one remember the joy of the miracles when the grief can be so heavy and overwhelming? How does one rejoice for the miracles without feeling guilty of disrespecting the grief? How can joy and grief live together in one heart?
It’s a mystery… The joy in Christmas is all about God stepping into our deepest heartache. There can be no joy at all without the broken. Because Jesus came into this world of suffering to be broken for us, joy is possible. Only because of His unfathomable love can we rejoice in anything at all.
It is descending into the dark valleys of grief that we learn to more deeply appreciate the gift of God’s love. The love that infuses light into the dark places inside. The love that seeps joy in to make the grief more bearable. The love that radiates hope into despairing hearts.
For you who are feeling downhearted and trodden down with troubles, I pray God will help you find joy in His gift of love. Grief and joy can live together. God’s love can carry us through the grief. Allowing ourselves to process our grief at the feet of Jesus brings greater joy. And joy is all the more glorious because of the grief.
Then Jesus said, “Come to Me,
all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.”
But the angel reassured them.
“Don’t be afraid!” he said.
“I bring you good news
that will bring great joy to all people.
The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today
in Bethlehem, the city of David!”
“The Gift of Love”