How the pain of love magnifies the sweetness of joy


It is one thing to hurt.  It is quite another when someone you love is hurting and there’s nothing you can do about it.  Well, you can pray.  And that certainly is not nothing. But the act or situation that caused pain has already occurred and you can’t go back in time and make it vanish. We have so very little control. 

I learned that when my children were born.  There they were, these little cherished ones running around in a world filled with danger.  It was as if my heart had left my body and was now more extremely vulnerable than ever before.  It felt like that because it was like that.

And then they’d go and get hurt.  So there you are.

If I hadn’t loved them, I wouldn’t have been vulnerable.  I wouldn’t ache when they were suffering pain or loss, but I also wouldn’t have my heart burst with joy when they were soaring either.

Nothing will affect our hearts or move us as deeply as people will.  We are made for fellowship, for relationship, for deep connections with others because we are made in the image of Perfect Relationship. As image bearer of the living God, we are echoes of the Trinity.  We remember something.

God tells us to weep with those who weep, and to rejoice with those that rejoice  (Romans 12:15). To do that means we will have to risk caring.  We will have to risk loving.  But in every case, the cost is worth the pain it might cause.  Our souls deepen with every choice we make to love.  We are increasingly transformed into the image of Christ and step more closely to union with our God.  He loves.  He is love.

We are made in the image of the Trinity and the Trinity is always moving, wooing, intervening and pursuing others to Life because the Trinity loves.  It cost God His Son and it cost the Son His life.  Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice to win our hearts to His and he doesn’t regret the choice nor resent the cost.

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He went to the cross the scriptures say,  “For the joy set before him” (Hebrews 12:2). We are that joy. And when one comes to Jesus in faith the angels rejoice and our God exults. The sweetness of joy is heightened by the cost it took to win it.

Sacrifice is costly. We all know that. What is a surprise to many of us though is that to truly love anyone will require sacrifice. It’s a risk we must take and a cost we must pay if we are to enter into the land of loving. And it is into that land that Jesus has beckoned us all to dwell.

It is the land of life. The land of belonging. The land of love. The land of goodness. The land that will make our hearts soar. The land that makes our lives rich and beautiful and good. The land that we will encounter the sweet Presence of our God.

Stasi Eldredge is the author of Defiant Joy and the director of the women’s ministry at Ransomed Heart. Learn more at