My weekend encapsulated one of those magical moments that little girls dream about their whole lives – their wedding day. With months of uncertainty and questions about gatherings due to the COVID-19, the celebration was sweetened by the intense way my niece and her fiancé pushed through struggles and challenges, tears and fears. It was finally their day!
With her faithful father by her side, my niece floated down the venue stairs. Robed in white, her shimmering eyes sparkled with a kind of innocent joy that’s rare these days. She glanced at her daddy and then stepped toward her future groom, clutching his hand with a little excited squeal thrown in for good measure. Long before he knew the name of his daughter’s future spouse, my brother had been praying about the possibility of this day. From start to finish, it was the glorious affirmation of all they’d prayed for — the good and the beautiful that is at the heart of all covenantal wedding days. It was pure joy.
But my weekend also included one of life’s greatest sorrows — the sudden loss of my dear friend’s child. I was at the rehearsal dinner when I received her text. My gasp was audible, so I quickly walked away so as not to dampen the celebratory mood. As I was doubled over with grief, music and dancing, laughter and giggles echoed all around me. But on the other end of the phone, my friend’s heart was splayed open from the devastation over her loss. Her daughter was gone too soon, never to have a rehearsal dinner. We have no guarantees.
Laughter and lamenting. Toasts and tears. All the “firsts” amidst such finality.
How could such emotions co-exist? How was I to function? With fourteen people staying at our home for the wedding, followed by a Sunday worship service (held in our backyard) for young families we mentor, I spent the wee hours of the weekend flushing out Ecclesiastes 3 in my heart. As I begged the Lord for wisdom on how to hold the grief and the joy, I was granted a gift.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 (NIV)
As I texted my grieving friend on the morning of the wedding, I shared that while I’d have to compartmentalize my feelings in order to celebrate, my heart wouldn’t be far from hers.
Her response came from someone who has spent decades deeply rooted in a biblical worldview that laid a solid foundation for her theology of suffering. She was understandably angry, completely devastated and living a parent’s worst nightmare, yet she also desired that through her darkest hour her Savior would be glorified.
She texted back, Jen, go rejoice with those who are rejoicing. We will have plenty of time for mourning later.
My memories of that wedding week are so complex, but they’ve taken me to a deeper level with the Lord than I’ve experienced in a long time. We want happy fairy tale days, and though our Lord does graciously give good gifts to His children, we are not guaranteed a life without grief and loss.
We’re all walking through such varied seasons right now, but one thing is certain: God is intricately involved in both our suffering and celebrating.
I’m reminded that we must ask tough questions in our faith now so that we can have a strong foundation when we face impossible situations, including death and loss. Then, He can comfort us in our most challenging times when we cry out, “Why have you forsaken me?”
I’m sitting in that tension on a more personal level as well. Prior to my niece’s wedding, I had received some scary medical results. I’d wrestled with pain under my left breast throughout the shelter-at-home quarantine, but since all non-essential appointments had been canceled for months, I decided not to worry my family unnecessarily. Once I finally got my appointment, the results of my mammogram showed a small mass where the pain was located.
It could be just a fatty tumor, but honestly, life holds such a perspective shift with what this mass could mean. It’s a gift to process all this even as I write now.
And as I wait for results*, I wonder what’s to come. In complete transparency, I’m worried. Yet, I’m not allowing worry to be used as a weapon to harm me. Satan is trying his best, but instead, I’m taking every single worry for myself, my dear friend and her family, for our future, and wielding it as worship with my eyes fixed on the only Waymaker.
He is here amidst our laughter and lament, amidst our worry and our worship. I know this to be true and choose to continue anchor my heart in His Word. There, I find grace for myself, and there is grace for you too.
*Edited to add: To everyone’s shock and relief, I got my mammogram results, and they were benign. Thanking God for His grace!
He is here amidst our laughter and lament, amidst our worry and our worship. -Jen Schmidt (@beautyandbedlam): Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
What a beautiful lesson in holding competing emotions…
Thank you, Elizabeth. Even weeks after writing that, it’s still holds the tension. 🙂
Marie Schenke says
I’m very glad you shared your results and we can rejoice with you! Thank you for your words that are so life giving! Praying for your friend.
Jen Schmidt says
Thank you, Marie. Your prayers are so appreciated for her family.
Katherine Mick says
I can so relate to the mix of joy and sorrow. The week before our daughter got married, last May, my mom had a major health crisis and ended up in the hospital and then to a skilled nursing unit. I live in Kansas City and my parents live in the Chicago suburbs so I was torn as to whether I needed to go there or finish the last minute prep for the wedding. My brothers were amazing and told me to stay home and we managed mom’s crisis together by phone. Mom was devastated that she could not attend the wedding and when the beautiful day came and all was perfect and joyful, we were able to FaceTime with my parents thanks to a dear friend who went to help them with the technology. The strong mix of joy and sorrow has continued as a low buzz this past year as we have dealt with other life events, both good and bad. I continue to hope in the lord that He is with us in all the times, joy and sorrow!
Oh Katherine –
Yes, you know that tension intimately. Congratulations, mother of the bride, but how is your mom doing?
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Praise that your report came back benign! I believe that throughout our lives we are challenged to face pain, suffering, and trials while holding onto the bottom line of hope that is within us. I believe that God will use our pain to draw us (the apple of His eye and deliht of His heart) unto Himself. I know that if it weren’t for the suffering I’ve endured in this lifetime, I would not have the close and intimate relationship that I have with my Lord. Also, God knows we are going to worry and, at times, be devastated. Why else would He put so many scriptures in the Bible that invite us to cast our cares at His feet, take them captive to Christ, lay our anxieties before Him with thanksgiving, and call on His name from the pit of despair. God knows our frame and we can rely and depend upon His grace when joy and despair coexist in our lives this side of eternity. Beautiful and vulnerable post.
Exactly, Bev. It’s also why my heart grieves when I read any hint of prosperity type gospel because we know there are no guarantees except that He is Still Good even when the results aren’t benign. 🙂 xoxox
K Ann Guinn says
Such timely truth.
Rejoicing with you in your happy news!
Thank you for rejoicing with me, K Ann!! 🙂
Tara Archibald says
This is absolutely beautiful, Jen. What a good good Father we serve. He alone is worthy of our praise and adoration. Only a good Father can bring joy during sorrow. Only He can turn what the devil meant for evil into something beautiful. Joy and sorrow. He created them both. He created us to feel them all. Jesus felt them all. He knows what it’s like to weep and what it is like to rejoice. And He joins us in both. Thank you Jen. Not sure I’m making sense as I have a migraine right now. But tis so sweet to know and trust Jesus…in the joy and in the sorrow. 🙂
Oh sweet Tara, you were making complete sense. How is your migraine doing today? Hopefully you’ve had a reprieve from the pain?
Tara Archibald says
Aww. Thank you! Much better today! Migraine is gone but there’s always a bit of a residual headache. But doing great! Thank you for your beautiful and vulnerable words!
Glad to hear the significant part of the pain has passed. I’ve only had four migraines in my life and it’s unbearable. So sorry.
Thank the Lord your results were negative, God is so good to us. We should Praise him all the time.
Yes, because even if the results were terrible, He is still good to us in so many ways. xoxo
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Jen all this makes see were our faith lies. We don’t like to hear bad news at anytime. Especially like you when your meant to enjoying a happy time at your niece’s wedding. Or any of us a happy time. It’s at times like this that Satan the old Devil knows how to if we let him get to us. We then panic. Because we are human. We say why Lord did you let like your friend Daughter die now especially when I got Wedding to go to. It an important one to go to. Especially when it a family member. If was friend or work person I could put it of not go. But you can’t as would look bad. But at the same time you want to be there for your friend who just lost her Daughter. You have your friend saying back to you go enjoy the wedding. We can grief together you can be there for me after the wedding. As it were you need to be now at the wedding. But Satan makes you feel guilty not being there for your friend who has just lost her Daughter. You say to yourself I should not be enjoying myself when my friend is sad. I should be with my friend. Comforting her praying with her. Being a friend too her. She needs me. So do the people staying at my home who are at the wedding. It not fair. I in the middle of all of this. I feel guilty. I feel bad. You feel why did this happen now. Lord why did you let this happen. Then you say why did my friends Daughter die she was to young to die. Parents most of them believe that they should in life go before their kids. Life can be on fair. But in life like my late Mums sister none of my family even on my Mum’s side and Dad’s saved. My Mum’s sister Husband years ago just passed away. It still today a shock to my Aunt. I pray for her Salvation in fact all of them. But in life we don’t have the answers to why things happen. Life seems very on fair. But we the saved have too keep or trust in God and keep praying and trusting the one who made us and who knows the answers even though we don’t see them. Even though they sometimes happen when we would not like them to happen. Like your health scare Jennifer. But thank you God it was ok. It could have been news you didn’t want to hear. But you got good news. Our is not to question why. But to pray and trust God. Read his word the Bible and stand on the promises in his word the Bible. Don’t let the Devil put fear and worry in our minds. Then for us to start ask questions to ourselves. Just when we have the time. Be there for our friends who need us. Like your friend Jennifer. Tell them the truth I am so sad I am doing what I am doing like you at the wedding when it over. If busy at something that is impossible that you just can’t get away from that time you know you feel bad. Let the person know you feel bad. But you are praying for them. Once you can get away. You be round to see them if they want you. They might just want to be on their own for a while. If so tell them you are there for them when they need you to let you know. For them to know God is with them at all times. Love today’s reading. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xxx
Thank you so much for your thoughts, Dawn. We appreciate how you’re such a loyal incourage commentor. xoxox
Esther Reynolds says
I’m so happy for your results! Praise God.
Tonight we’re to go to dinner to meet my daughter’s future in laws. I’m so excited. Yesterday my sister received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Your posting was what I call a Holy Moment. Thank you.
Jennifer Schmidt says
Oh Esther – holy moment indeed. You are living in the depths of the tension. I’m so sorry for your sister’s diagnosis. What a scary time.
In the midst of that, I’m know it’s hard though to verbalize your excitement about that in-law dinner, so I’d love to hear how it went. 🙂
Esther Reynolds says
It was a much needed distraction. I feel I’m in shock and not able to focus clearly. Yet dinner was fun, we laughed and got to know each other over a great meal. I kept thinking to myself, it’s ok to laugh and find joy in the moment, there will be time for sadness later. God bless you.
YES!! So glad you were able to laugh and find joy. Will be praying for your sister as I pray for my friend.
Thanking God that your results were benign Jen! Praying for comfort and peace for your friend ❤️
Thank you so much, Stephanie. xoxo
Beth Williams says
Praising God for the great results. God said in John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” We have a hope & a future. Sure it may be bleak at times. Trials will come to everyone at some point. But we can lay them at the Savior’s feet & praise Him for taking care of them. I know from experience that God uses our trials to build us up & woo us closer to Himself. After going through my dad’s dementia & geriatric psych hospitalizations years ago I came out of that valley with invigorated faith & trust muscles. Now when trials come I know He will handle them in His perfect timing. I have been ruminating on Psalm 23:5 Yea though I walk Through the valley of shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy rod & staff they comfort me. He will comfort you in all times.
Holly B says
Thank you for sharing such a personal experience. Though my experiences recently have been different than yours, many of the emotions have been similar. Grief, rejoicing, they’ve been there. Not wanting to worry family when other things were going on, yes, that too. But my test results came out different. Yet even with undergoing a bi-lateral mastectomy with complications, and an emergency gall bladder surgery within 3 weeks of it, the outcome is the same – GRACE, poured out in abundant, lavish measure on me by my Heavenly Father. I am so thankful to be able to hold on to HIM, to sit at HIS feet during these days, and to know HE holds my tomorrows. To HIM, be all the glory, all the honor, and all the praise!