by Danetta Kellar
I am filled with encouragement; I am overflowing with joy in the midst of all our suffering. 2 Corinthians 7:4
synergy: the interaction or cooperation of two or more agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.
When I left him two days before, he was sitting in his leather recliner, giving careful instructions about exactly how he would like his turkey sandwich. Now I found him lying weakly on his back in bed, barely able to gather enough air in his lungs to speak to me. His decline was startling.
He gallantly whispered, “I’m still fighting.”
I looked into his blue eyes and tried to think of what to say to encourage him. I had just returned from leading a women’s conference in a beautiful mountain inn. He had been so proud of me, so encouraging of my writing and teaching. I decided to do the only thing I could in that moment and began to declare to him the praises of all God had done over the weekend in our hearts.
As I shared, his struggle to breathe grew noticeably more difficult, his face reddening. With alarm, I exclaimed, “I am so sorry! Am I upsetting you?”
Tears flowed from his eyes as he fought to form the words, “No, I’m not upset. I am rejoicing!”
I stood there unable to speak for a long time, my young hand holding his old one, our tear soaked faces beaming with joy while our hearts disintegrated with grief.
It is a terrible mystery how we can feel both shattering pain and overflowing joy at the same time. Sorrow alone can drain all life from us, all hope. Joy alone can make us idealists, aloof to the pain of others. But together, sorrow and joy create something more. Something beyond. Something different than they ever can independently be.
Together, joy and sorrow create a synergy, a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.
I experienced it poignantly that day standing by the bedside of my father who was transitioning from this world to heaven. His body remained, but his heart and mind were set on the Country to which he would soon go.
That in-between place, the spiritual terminal where we travel from one dwelling place to another, is a fitting illustration of the synergy of joy and sorrow. When joy and sorrow mingle, we find ourselves in-between. When the two combine, we glimpse both worlds; the one we will all eventually leave behind, and the one to which we may one day go.
Knowing Christ is the only path to that Greater Country.
Jesus understood the powerful synergy of joy and sorrow the day He took our shame, sin, and fear upon Himself and died in our place on the cross.
I am certain he hung between this country and the one to come on that volatile day. As He stretched His hands across those wooden beams, Jesus conjoined joy and sorrow once and for all. With His last breath, He declared, It is finished. Jesus finished the joy-sorrow task of bringing all of us Home.
We see only in part this Resurrection Day. Our suffering, our joy, they are all but glimpses beyond the cross to the place where one day all will be complete and clear.
In the meantime, we are caressed by the mysterious hands of sorrow and joy as they intermingle in our lives. They are ministers of encouragement, cheering us on to Hope, bidding us look upward to that other Country where we will know joy in its fullness one day.