Tension of Opposites is a term I first learned about from my life coach Lynn Schoener. She would remind me that tension is good, it enables you to hold a glass of water in your hand. Without some tension you would drop the glass. Life is full of ups and downs, mountains and valleys, good and bad. I have had a front row seat to both joy and sorrow over the last few months. We are mistaken if we think it is one or the other. They are both there at the same time.
The illustration Kay Warren uses in her book Choose Joy Finding Joy No Matter What You're Going Through is spot on. She says this on page 14 of her devotional:
"We tend to think that life comes in hills and valleys, a series of good things and bad things happening to us. But really it's much more like train tracks. Every day of your life, delightful things happen. Things that bring pleasure and contentment and beauty. At the exact same time, however, there are painful things that are disappointing, hurtful, and even full of sorrow. These two tracks -- joy and sorrow -- run parallel to each other every single moment of your life... Our goal, then, is not to figure out how to live only on the joy side of the tracks and avoid the sorrow side, but it's how to live on the parallel tracks where joy and sorrow run side by side."
It was getting close to Christmas and we have a tradition at our church that we give an ornament to families who have lost loved ones during the year. I was asked to deliver one of these ornaments to the family whose son was killed in a car crash in November. So I went to the home and greeted the mom and gave her the ornament and card and a big giant hug. Then we wept together. The tension of opposites. Extending a gift of remembrance and words of comfort and peace, mixed together with such grief. Preparing to celebrate the birth of our Savior, singing Joy to the World, and knowing so many are hurting.
More recently on January 10th, in the morning we got the wonderful news that our next grand baby is a BOY, and that the results of some tests that we were unsure of, showed he is healthy! That same day, hours later I received a call from my sister, and she said, "She's dead." I was shocked, and fell to the floor (in Target of all places) and began to sob. My sweet god-child, Lauren had been battling leukemia. She beat it once with an amazing gift of a bone marrow transplant and then it came back. She turned 30 on December 16, 2017 and was facing the return of this disease with such courage and strength. The effects from the chemo were too much for her organs and with her amazing husband by her side her Savior Jesus called her home. And there it is again, death and life. Our sadness and loss is her victory and gain as she is now dancing around the throne in heaven.
The verse I read that morning was from Isaiah 55:12 "For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." One day there will not be both joy and sorrow. We will only have perfect shalom and and unending joy. Until then, we live in a world with a tension of opposites. Joy does not leave when sorrow comes. And we are loved by a God who understands exactly what we need in the midst of it all. He has promised to be with us and never leave us, and His perfect love will sustain us. When we believe in Jesus our resurrection victory is sure. (John 11:25)