“…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5 (King James 2000 version)
Have you ever wondered why the promise of joy has to wait until morning to arrive? Why can’t we just have it now? This is a question I’ve struggled with for most of my Christian life. Joy is something I’ve desired for years (I have it now, thank God!), and in those years, I’ve discovered a few unalterable truths. If you’re searching for joy, perhaps this will bring light to your journey.
Pain is unavoidable in this life, because we live in a world broken by sin. God did not create it this way, but choosing what God never chose for us has resulted in unimaginably painful realities which we cannot reverse. It took the cross of Jesus Christ to undo what has been done, and still there are sometimes miles and years between us and the realization of the new reality He has secured.
Sometimes, because we’ve been through so much devastation, it is not a quick or easy route to discover and move into the truths Jesus died to bring to our lives. This side of Heaven, nothing will be perfected, and yet there is still the promise of living in the kind of peace, joy and freedom that the Scriptures say belong to us in Christ. But there is a process attached to this journey, and that process involves a trek through some long, hard nights.
If you haven’t caught on to the imagery yet, let me make it plain for you. If the long night of weeping represents the darkness of pain that we must endure, then the morning, with its promise of joy, represents the breakthrough of light into our darkness. The morning is what we long for, what we hope for, what we try our best to believe God for. It’s the moment when everything is okay again, and we are not afraid of the shadows anymore. It’s the place at which we emerge from the fire and realize we have not been consumed. The human soul has this longing, and this faith, built into it, though we often lose sight of it in our night seasons.
In order to consider why joy must wait for the night season to complete its course, we must look at the purpose of pain. My favorite Scripture is Isaiah 66:9, which in the New Century Version says: “God will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.” No doubt, God has great intentions for our pain, and for anything that touches our lives. We can always assume the best from God…unless the enemy has laid his hands on our night season – which is always a present reality.
The enemy’s intention in our pain is to rob us. First of all, he seeks to rob us of our faith in a good God. Second, he seeks to disconnect us and rob us of our relationship with Jesus. And if Jesus is the light of the world, the Bright and Morning Star, as Scripture declares (Revelation 22:16), then the enemy also seeks to rob us of our joy. He is, of course, deceptive in his agenda. He complicates the process so that we cannot detect his motives, and so lose sight of the promised morning in the midst of grappling with our pain.
When pain touches our lives in any form, it hurts. Humanity’s natural reaction to what hurts is to recoil and self-protect. Very often, when pain lands, we build walls around our hearts in hopes of never having to endure such pain again. These walls serve as a buffer of sorts, to protect our minds from being affected by what we have experienced, so that we can continue to function in our daily lives. There is a disconnect now in place between the heart and the mind. And while walls of self-protection do provide a measure of “safety,” they also sever us from the truth and the natural means of healing which God has put in our lives: relationships. Relationships with God, with ourselves, and with others.
When the heart is protected by walls, and thus the mind has assumed an unaffected position, the mind begins to work against the heart, stuffing emotions of fear and grief and anger (even righteous anger) back down into the protected heart. Pain is not tolerated or allowed to surface. When this happens, truth has a very hard time traveling from the mind down into the heart. This is dangerous because the heart is the place of faith/belief. We confess truth with our mouths, but we must believe it with our hearts in order to be able to live it out as our reality (Romans 10:9).
When pain is not allowed to be felt, recognized, or expressed in our lives, this steals joy. When permission to feel pain is cut off, so is the God-given journey of processing our pain. And when the journey of processing pain is cut off, so is the bright morning when light breaks into the darkness and healing comes to bring us back to the place of truth and hope. Joy has to be birthed through the permission for pain to be processed.
When I look back at my life and all the years I struggled to find joy, I can honestly recognize the fear of processing pain, and the tendency I had to deny it instead. It wasn’t that I claimed to not have any pain, but rather that I was so afraid to dig into it that I chose instead to just claim the truths I read in the Bible, and hope that was enough to get me there. Underneath my confessions, however, lurked many nights of dark pain which were desperately trying to protest what I said I believed.
It wasn’t until God led me into a season of healing that I discovered His deep goodness in the midst of pain. What I most feared – that pain would devour me if I looked at it too closely – was not even a possibility in God’s presence. Outside of His presence, however, it was a very real possibility…one I was living out on a daily basis. It was eroding my soul, and God knew it. In His kindness, He brought me face to face with my pain, in order to shatter the walls I had put around my heart, and to teach me what to do with pain: hand it to Him.
I’ve spent much of my life trying so hard to prevent painful things from happening to me and to those closest to me, because I was afraid of the pain. But pain, God showed me, is a giant that needs to fall. Although I will encounter it often in this world, I don’t have to protect myself against it. I just have to confess and believe His truth in the face of it, and hand it over to Him when it comes to wound me.
The aim of pain, in the enemy’s hand, is to cause me to back down from being who God created me to be. His goal is to get me to cower and self-protect, so I will not allow Christ in me to love anyway. When I hand God the threat of pain, and even the wound of pain, I am still able to press in and love as He loves. This will not always mean relationships are undisturbed, of course. Some relationships are destroyed by pain, because people don’t know how to allow God to lead them through it. Often, addictions become the outlet for pain we are not allowed to feel, and those addictions ravage our relationships. So love, in those situations, has necessary boundaries. But boundaries are better than walls, and if my heart is free to love, then I am free to press on, and joy becomes my promised portion.
The more pain we process through, the more joy we take possession of. The more sunrises I watch, the more certain I become of the beautiful truth that the sun will rise after every dark night. While that is a reality I live with every day, I haven’t always been conscious of it, and have often endured through horrendous seasons completely unaware of the gift of the morning. In fact, there have been seasons when the morning was a dreaded arrival instead of one filled with hope and promise.
Dear Woman of Breakthrough, have you given your heart permission to feel its pain, or are you too afraid that it will be devoured by that pain? Have you succumbed to the lies of the enemy and put walls around your heart to protect yourself from pain?
Today I invite you to be awakened to the truth that, while there may have been a time in your life when you needed those walls, you need them no more! I encourage you to bring your pain into the presence of God – even with the accusations it carries against Him – and begin to process it with the baby seed of faith that promises your night is pregnant with joy.
Instead of stuffing pain and willing yourself to keep going, give yourself and Jesus permission to set you free from the disconnect between your heart and mind. I pray for the courage to examine all that pain has taught you to believe about yourself, about God, and about others, and I bless you to journey toward joy like it is your promised possession.
Dear Woman of Breakthrough, Jesus has risen in your darkness in order to lead you into that possession!