The Fullness of Our Joy on Sadder-Days and Sundays

April 2, 2015 | 22 comments

It’s been one of those seasons, where you feel the two sides of your heart tugged hard. One side of the heart is tugged toward the joy of heaven, secured by the Resurrection, which we are soon to celebrate. And the other side of the heart is tugged toward the pain of earth and all of its manifold heartbreak.

I see it on Facebook, and across my own community — unexpected and untimely deaths, job loss, terrorism, abject hunger, another out-of-the-blue diagnosis. The world has been ripped right open, and it bleeds. I’m getting used to carrying Kleenex.

I remember how, last year, we walked into a church sanctuary on the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It was a Saturday, but it felt like a Sadder-Day, because we were walking in behind Aunt Sandy’s casket. She was one of those larger- than-life people, a flesh-and-blood rock for the family. She seemed immortal, and in the truest sense, she was. And is.

But her change-of-residence left a hollow ache in all of us. Grief is this pit in the soul that yawns open, and threatens to swallow us whole.

That morning at the funeral, hundreds of lilies trumpeted the Risen King — with their fresh-bloomed faces tilted heavenward. And in that moment, I felt the tugging that I feel today — the joy of Jesus, and the pain of this humanity.

The Bible says that we don’t grieve as the world grieves, but you know what? We still grieve. My friend John Blase says it like this: “Death may have lost its sting, but it still burns.”

In times like these, all I know is that Jesus is our only hope. Apart from Him, I have nothing, and I am nothing.

dying Easter lily

I also know that Jesus is acquainted with the two-way tug of a human heart. He is familiar with tears, and He wasn’t afraid to shed them. Jesus wept, even though he knew he was mere moments away from bringing Lazarus back to life. Furthermore, the same God who created the salt in your tears, is the very God who bottles every one of them up.

I have begun to learn that the two-way tug of my heart is not a contradiction in terms — but that it represents the fullness of my experience as a human who belongs to Jesus.

Because of Jesus, I have permission to cry. I am not a hypocrite when I grieve over the pain of loss.

I am a time in my life where I am learning what it means to enter into a fuller joy, an authentic joy that allows space for lamenting. My joy doesn’t depend on my circumstances, but it doesn’t ignore my circumstances either. This is the secret to true happiness — feeling the whole of life, and feeling along the edges of our lives to find Jesus resting upon every inch of it.

Some of the happiest people I’ve ever met, have endured great loss. And they have lived to tell about it. They have walked through seasons full of Sadder-Days. But they learned along the way that Jesus, who carried the burden of the cross, also carried the burden of their own load of pain. Christ carries the cross, and every load we’ve bore, and He carries every one of us — in the name of love. 

The two-way tug of our hearts intersects at the beams of the cross.

The hymn asks the question: “Did e’er such love and sorrow meet?”

This is the crossroads of true joy, deep joy — this place where Christ, for the joy set before Him, took on all of our Sadder-Days.

It is okay to cry. It is okay for a Christian to grieve deeply and sorrowfully. True joy is acquainted with suffering. True happiness weeps. True happiness in this life allows space for a person to be sad. No person who is happy can really be happy if she isn’t ever sad.

Happy people know what the salt in their tears taste like. Happy people are the people who don’t fall for a superficial spirituality and a slapped-on smile. Happy people are the ones who bring the Kleenex. And they aren’t afraid to be a mess, or to sit down with someone else in their mess, and to get honest about the mess when no one else will.

Happiness weeps. And sometimes, happiness tastes like salt in tears.

A life of true joy is a heart tugged two ways. And it’s knowing that for every Sadder-Day, we have the promise of an empty-tomb Sunday.

As a child, I sang this song throughout the Lenten season: “Every morning is Easter morning from now. Every day’s Resurrection Day the past is over and gone.”

I need more Easter every day. But I also need Good Friday, to counter every bad Thursday. When I see Jesus dying on the cross to make a wretch his treasure, I can’t help but know that He’s capable of filling the hollow ache.

I mean, who does this? Jesus, that’s who. Jesus paid the enormity of my debt and my pain, surrendering his life for the incomprehensible love of us.

The world has never known another god like this — a God who loves us and rescues us. Just because He wants to — not because He has to.

I need to know He is risen, on my Sundays. And especially on my Sadder-Days.

He is Risen,
not only in April, but in June and October and December.

He is Risen
at midnight and noon — and even at 3:52 a.m.

He is Risen,
on Sunday and Sadder-Day, and Good Friday, and Bad Thursday.

He is Risen,
when we feel like singing at the top of our lungs,
and even when we don’t.

He is Risen,
when we need him most —
and also in those heels-dug-in moments
when we think we don’t Him at all.

He is Risen,
— not for a day,
but for EVER.

We need a Savior like that. A Savior who understands our tears, who collects them, who has felt the pain of grief, but who knows how this story ends. We need a Savior who holds the fullness of our humanity — with all its happiness and heartbreak — and cups it in His able hands.

And thanks be to Jesus, we have a Savior like that. 



Submitted in community for The High Calling’s Resurrection Theme

by | April 2, 2015 | 22 comments


  1. Susan Gadberry

    Yes and Amen <3

    • dukeslee

      He is Risen! … Praying for all you Lightbearers today. Seems crazy that a week has passed…

  2. Lynn Mosher

    Amen, amen, amen! A thousand times amen! I always love reading your touching words because they come from a precious heart. A heart that loves the Lord and seeks always through her Sadder-days to live out her Resurrection days. Gotta go now. My eyes are leaking. I need my Kleenex! May the Lord bless your Easter with a special touch of His resurrected presence!

    • dukeslee

      Thanks for being here, Lynn. Grateful for you. Happy Easter to you and your family.

  3. Carol

    Beautiful and so timely.

    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Carol. I’m glad you encountered God in the message. Be blessed this day.

  4. ro elliott

    This so resonates to where God has me… He has been doing some deep work in my heart… I have grieved deeply but maybe for the first time in these times of repentance…joy is right there… It’s as if I bounce back between the two…deep sorrow…than unexpressable Joy for His grace and mercy and longsuffering love…then He plunges deeper into my heart…to continue being the Master Gardner…digging out root systems that have choke out life …. Tears of sadness flow…and right along side comes Joy. I am wondering …is this how He really longed to always work repentance in me???? In His children… I think in the past I resisted joy coming because I was “afraid” not to repent deep enough… Oh His love endures for ever…what a Savior indeed… Blessings and Happy Resurrection Sunday!!!!!

    • dukeslee

      Thank you for stopping by, Ro. Your words here are beautiful. Happy Resurrection Sunday to you as well. He is risen!

  5. Becky Keife

    “…the tugging that I feel today — the joy of Jesus, and the pain of this humanity.” Yes, friend, I feel it, too. It’s been a week of weeping bitter tears over a life-changing diagnosis for my sister. But the tears don’t mean I have lost faith or hope or trust in the Great Tear-Catcher. It means that I’m mourning one the broken realities of living in a broken world. But through the tears I can still laugh with my boys and be held by my Savior and know that God is in it all. So thank you for this. Words like manna to my heart.

    • dukeslee

      Oh Becky … I am so sorry that you’ve gotten hard news. I am praying, friend.

  6. Sylvia R @

    Beautiful post. Beautiful truth. Thank you.

    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Sylvia. God bless you this Easter. May it be a day filled with the hope and promise of our King. He is Risen.

  7. Susan Miller

    Oh my, today is the ninth anniversary of our son’s tragic death in a firery car crash. I’ve felt weak as wept for my loss but then I read your blog. Thank you my friend! Thank you for appreciating my tears. God bless you my sister.

    • Beth Price

      I am so very sorry for your loss!

  8. Jody Ohlsen Collins

    The longer I walk with Jesus the more I learn that very bad things happen to very good people who love Him (and those that don’t know Him yet.)
    But God…..
    ‘But God’ is the Sunday cry of the sadder days…….loved your play on words and tug on my heart.

    • dukeslee

      I love that, Jody. Thank you so much for sharing.

  9. Beth Price

    My daddy died in 2009. I remember that I cried and cried and then I cried some more. I told my husband that I thought I would cry until I drowned in my own tears.
    Oh my word! I was so angry I thought I would explode from the rage. Somebody said to me that he was with Jesus and I should be happy. Uh, there are already plenty of angels in Heaven! He didn’t have to have another one. I went home from the funeral of my hero, the only man who ever had my whole heart, understood me like no one else, and never once judged me for my mistakes. He would just…be. I was so far away from God, that I didn’t pick up my Bible for weeks. Then one night I dreamed about my daddy and he said, “Morning Glory! This is the day MY Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!” He said that to me Every. Single. Morning.
    It made me feel like he was telling me to get on the ball. He was great and he was rejoicing so I needed to get up and do them same. He died on the 9th of February and I picked my Bible back up on March 10th. Just inside the front cover was a Christmas card I had given on his last Christmas. It had a picture of a man and a small child, probably 4 or 5 dragging a Christmas tree behind them. On that card, he’d written, ‘I remember you when you were that small…’ I still have no idea how it got there or why I didn’t see it BEFORE he died because I read my Bible every day, but it was there.
    Jesus was there with me, carrying the heaviest part of my grief, even though I was angry that Daddy was gone. He let me see that my daddy was OK and that I would be too. Without God, we WOULD all be in a terrible place.

    • dukeslee

      This comment gave me head-to-toe “God bumps.” Wow, Beth. What a gift you’ve been give, of hope and assurance. Be blessed this Easter. Thank you so much for sharing.

  10. Doug Spurling

    That’ll preach! Thanks. The good thing about valleys…they’re mountains you’ve crossed once on the other side.

    • dukeslee

      Oh, that’s good, Doug. Happy Resurrection Day to you, my friend.

  11. Traci Rhoades

    Your pictures are lovely. I cannot think of a better name for the day between Good Friday and Resurrection than Sunday than Sadder-Day. Truly.

    • dukeslee

      Bless you, Traci. Thanks for reading along, and may you have a most blessed Easter filled with the hope of Jesus Christ our Lord.



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