Beyond the bittersweet.

In every happy event, there is usually an aspect of sadness.  Even the most positive circumstances can provide some fragment of pain. The happenings of life are bittersweet: one door opening means another door closing, a new chapter means the end to an old chapter, progression brings maturity, but progression brings change, and with life comes death.

As a child, we were rarely aware of the bitter with the sweet.  And as an adult, it is hard to not disproportionately dwell on that bitter with the sweet.  This war between the bitter and sweet of life will be lurking in every circumstance.  And this has made me hunger for the abundant and unchanging joy we find in our Lord.

Only in our Lord can we find the fullness of joy untainted by circumstance.

I am not being pessimistic; I am acknowledging our unrealistic expectations of being fulfilled by happy circumstances.  Fortunately, we do not have to be satisfied with tainted joy.  It is not that we become content with the broken happiness that life often is; it is that we find our joy in Christ. 

The joy of Christ fosters an ability to live beyond the bittersweet that is present in even the most celebratory situations.  When our joy is premised on God, on hope in God, and on God’s promises, we have the fullest joy attainable.  Because our Lord and our Lord’s promises do not change, that joy predicated on our Lord and our Lord’s promises is complete always.

Our feelings and reliance on that joy may falter with our humanity, but we always have the opportunity to maximize unwavering joy in Jesus Christ.

And I do not think we should be surprised.  If earthly aspects of life will be eternally fleeting, then happiness premised on earthly aspects of life is equally fleeting.  The fleeting nature of happiness premised on human circumstances is not inherently bad—happiness is a wonderful, God-created experience.  But without the joy of God as a platform always, those happy earthly circumstances eventually prove empty.

 Praise God that we do not have to be bound by this constant war between momentary happiness and pain.  Of course, that bittersweet will always be present.  But this joy that comes from the presence of God is bigger than the bittersweet.

When I experience the presence of God, when I know that I am where God wants me, when I praise God, I experience the fullness of God in my life. And experiencing the fullness of God means my heart is fulfilling the pinnacle of its existence.  At the pinnacle of our existence—in the fullness of God—is the fullness of joy.

And joy premised on God will forever be available to me, and it will forever be available to you.  Because God makes our joy eternally complete despite the emotions we feel, we can perpetually live beyond the bittersweet of our human existence.

I pray we take hold of this joy that our Lord has so graciously made available to us.

“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.”  (Acts 2:28 NIV).

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  (1 Peter 1:8, 9 NIV).

 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  (Romans 15:13 NIV).

On another note, nothing can be more bittersweet than the super-black-I-need-to-man-up coffee I made this morning.  Hello, creamer.


Much love to you,


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