There is much to digest in this first week of Lent. Walt Wangerin is a beautiful story teller, but also opens up the opportunity for much deeper thinking.
What resonated with me most was a portion of Scripture from John 16 about joy. I know I often associate joy as a whole as something pleasant, but here, both in the Scripture and the narrative, I am reminded, that joy comes from a place of difficulty.
20 “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (ESV)
In Reliving the Passion, the author says this:
“The difference between shallow happiness and a deep, sustaining joy is sorrow. Happiness lives where sorrow is not. When sorrow arrives, happiness dies. It can’t stand pain. Joy, on the other hand, rises from sorrow and therefore can withstand all grief.” (Wangerin 31).
It goes on to remind us of the transformation of sorrow into hope and how we call that joy, not happiness.
I am still chewing on this, but the ultimate takeaway here is that on this journey of life we have been gifted with, God does not promise it will be continued happiness, for that is a temporary feeling. We will endure suffering, because sin and evil exist, and if we can turn to Him, that is where true joy comes from and is made complete. Our difficult experiences give us strength to endure because Christ has already endured for us.