We all have an aversion to pain, and tend to avoid it. We may run from it, hide from it, or deny it. We desire a life of happiness, so, not surprisingly, we tend to view pain as an enemy from which we must flee.

One problem with this perspective is that today’s pain often leads to tomorrow’s joy. Child bearing inevitably leads to pains of many sorts, but it is also the source of happiness. Any loving relationship comes with a share of pain. The cost of avoiding pain can be the loss of our greatest joy.

Another source of pain comes from suppressing truth. Humans are naturally adept at pretending “everything is ok.” Suppressing pain behind a mask unnecessarily perpetuates suffering.

We can be strategic about pain. We can avoid the self-inflicted kind, while embracing the unavoidable kind as an opportunity. When we encounter pain of any sort, the joy of the Lord provides a way out.

Joy and grief, pain and happiness, swirl around one another. It is a complicated dance we can either relish or dread. The key is to allow ourselves to acknowledge what is real. The truth of what is happening, even in pain and sorrow, is an advocate. It allows a perspective that moves us toward growth, intimacy, and peace.

“Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, And the end of joy may be grief.”
– Proverbs 14:13