sorrow and joy by greg sponberg after losing luke

Sorrow AND Joy

"The Man of Sorrows is the fountain of all joy to others, and is the possessor of all the joys of heaven and earth, by virtue of his triumphs. He has experienced joys in proportion to his sorrows; as He once waded through deep waters of grief He has now climbed to the highest mountains of happiness. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross despising the shame, and now having sat down at his Father's right hand he enjoys pleasures for evermore."

 – Charles Spurgeon, in his message "The Gladness of the Man of Sorrows", delivered on Sunday morning March 8, 1863, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London


A view from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon at Navajo Point

A few years ago, Nicol and I stood atop a viewing platform at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was breathtakingly beautiful… and cold.  And we enjoyed the gorgeous scenery of one of America's most visited tourist attractions. 

One of the things I remember most about the Grand Canyon is its rugged, jagged and terrifying vastness. Yes, it is a gorgeous and awe-inspiring site to behold, but it is also just plain scary to peer out into its overwhelming enormity. It is 277 miles long, ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles, and is more than one miles deep in places. While it is not the deepest canyon in the world or even in the United States, it is incredibly impressive. So I highly recommed it to everyone… and don't forget to stop at In-N-Out Burger on your way!   All that to say…    My mind and heart are afixed to the idea of thoughts that are at first glance incompatible: images that create both terror AND allure… terrain that is both jagged AND beautiful… depths that are both repelling AND appealing… swirling winds that both freeze your cheeks AND invite you to stay just a little while longer… rays of sunshine that both penetrate the frigid temps AND at the same time cannot find their way to warm the lowpoints below… a setting sun that both, for safety's sake, asks you to leave AND begs you to watch it slip behind the horizon.
My mind and heart are afixed to the idea of thoughts and activities that are at first glance completely incompatible: losing our son AND moving forward with life… having our hearts broken AND surviving the pain… feeling the sorrow AND laughing with joy… feeling the weight of heavy grief AND having the strength to rise in the morning… knowing God allowed this terrible thing to happen AND finding rest, comfort, and peace in Him… knowing God could have kept Luke alive AND seeing His grace in ways never before imagined… asking God all the hard questions AND thanking Him for sustaining us, for being with us in this.
My mind and heart are afixed to the idea of a Savior who is equally familiar with our sorrow AND our joy. So said Spurgeon… He has experienced joys in proportion to His sorrows.    He is the good news of great joy AND He is the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.  He is seated on the throne AND He was born in a filthy manger. He ascended up into heaven as the risen Savior AND He condescended to earth as Immanuel, God with us, the God Man. He received the Spirit of God, the blessing of the well-pleased Father AND He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He was anointed by the Spirit of the Lord AND He was scourged by those who hated Him. He came to a world in need of good news, He sought out the broken, the downcast, the bruised, He opened blind eyes, set captives free, He came declaring a new Jubilee AND He was criminalized, exchanged for a thug. He brought forth justice, did not cry aloud or lift up His voice, He gently breathed new life into the lifeless AND He breathed His last breath, giving up His spirit, while nailed to a tree. He accomplished the will of the Father AND He suffered in the flesh. He heard shouts of 'Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!' as He rode into Jerusalem AND He listened as they later mocked Him and scoffed at Him as he carried His cross to Golgotha, the place of the skull. He poured out His soul as a humble, lowly servant of all AND He poured out His soul to death, was numbered with the transgressors, bore the iniquities of us all. He prayed 'I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work that You gave Me to do' AND He cried out 'Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani? … My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?' He is exalted to the highest place, has been given the name that is above every name AND He was despised and rejected by men. He has been made perfect AND He learned obedience from the things He suffered. He sits at the right of the Father, crying out, living to make intercession for everyone who draws near to God through Him AND He watched and listened as religious leaders and political authorities conspired to kill Him. He is the lion of the tribe of Judah AND He is the sacrificial lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. He we
ars a crown of honor and glory, a crown of gold AND He wore a crown of thorns. He will give us the crown of righteousness, the crown of life, a crown of glory AND He wore our crown of guilt and shame. He will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost AND He was given for drink a sponge soaked with sour wine. He will crush the head of Satan AND Satan bruised His heal.  

He is the good news of great joy AND He is the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.   He has experienced joys in proportion to His sorrows. He is Jesus and He has been with us like never before, walking with us in this valley of death, ever present, ever near, ever familiar with the sorrow and grief we now share with Him.

He has allowed us to feel the sorrow AND the joy.

The canyon of sorrow that was carved out in our hearts the night Luke died is wide, long, and breathtakingly deep. Many others are viewing, some up close, some from afar, but there is a particular spot on the viewing platform reserved only for Nicol and I. We share it with no one, except our Lord. Perhaps Summer will one day step over to where we are. It is jagged, dangerous, and terrifying. It is slippery and utterly unappealing. Cold winds swirl. Darkness invades its space. Sunlight cannot always find its way in.
But that same canyon, with its enormous width and length and depth, has afforded us unspeakable joys as well. Its vastness does also now fill up with once-thought "simple" pleasures of life. We've had glimpses of beauty ne'er 'fore beheld. The pitter patter of Summer's little feet when they hit floor in the morning have never sounded so sweet. Pushing her on a swing has never been so fulfilling. The sight of her tummy rising and falling as she sleeps never more precious. Her deep belly laughter has never been so hilarious. Our own laughter has never been a better remedy on a day when we are ailing, never been tastier medicine for our hearts. Nicol's caring ways have never been so obviously sacrificial, never more intentional. Her voice never so soothing to my soul. An out-of-the-blue phone call has never been so eagerly received. A day on the golf course was never so peacefully enjoyed. A fender bender has never looked so lovely. Past offenses have never looked more miniscule and insignificant. The longing to be with people has never been greater. The anticipation of seeing loved ones again was never stronger.
The love and grace and mercy and peace of God has never been more apparent, more tender.
The sorrow AND the joy have never been deeper.
And all this is 

by virtue of the triumphs of our Savior

. He defeated sin. He overcame the grave. By His stripes we are healed. He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. He will make all things new. His dwelling place is with us. Ours is with Him.

He will guide us in our sorrow AND He will guide us into everlasting joy.

For the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross despising the shame, and now having sat down at his Father's right hand He enjoys pleasures for evermore.

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