the joy/pain relationship

July 30, 2011

Do you ever find the same theme running through your conversations with different people and with God?  For the past couple of weeks, I have found myself frequently talking about marriage (specifically, the hopes my single friends and I have to someday be married), and about the relationship between joy and pain.  I’ll save the first topic for another time, because the joy/pain topic has been truly refreshing in recent days…

I think the first conversation was this blog post written by my friend Bob.  He references C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain, about how love demands the perfecting of the beloved, and as any human–especially a follower of Jesus–knows, the process of being perfected is far from pain-free.  In response, I recommended that Bob read Where Is God When It Hurts? by Philip Yancey.  I read this book years ago but still remember how well Yancey describes the necessary and helpful nature of pain.  Physically, pain is part of a God-created system of warning and protection for the body.  Emotionally, he says pain is intimately linked with joy: “Pain is an essential component of our most satisfying experiences.”  I rephrased the joy/pain relationship in these terms:  We may experience tremendous joy without pain, but pain allows us to fully appreciate the joy.

Example:  Last week, I visited my dear friend Kristin in Colorado Springs for a few days.  She had been praying for me before my arrival and specifically prayed that my vacation would be a chance to experience God’s beauty and joy after a time of so much loss.  Her prayer set the tone for my time there.  I could have visited Garden of the Gods and Pike’s Peak and fully enjoyed them.  But with the awareness of my recent pain and loss, I had a new, keen appreciation for every moment, every sight, every conversation of the trip.  Every experience was teeming with life and was thus life-giving and joy-giving to me.

I cannot express how refreshing it is to have entered a season of joy.  My hope is that as I continue to grieve and remember the pain, the result would be ever-increasing joy.



  1. Good stuff Allison. So glad that you are beginning to experience joy again.

    • Thanks, Bob! I definitely feel like it’s a re-learning of something that used to be familiar.

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