Our last post featured a video of our family’s playful plunge into a pool as a reminder of the “play” that characterizes God’s children in His redemptive mission. This is a photo of Jacob with a bandaged chin, which he cut his very next time down the slide. Both our plunge and Jacob’s mishap occurred moments apart several months ago, and they symbolically remind us that serving in God’s kingdom is simultaneously playful and painful.
Jesus both rejoiced and wept as He obeyed His Father. The writer of Hebrews explains how Jesus “for the joy set before Him endured the cross,” before taking His place on His heavenly throne. Then the recipients are encouraged to endure painful discipline as God’s children, which eventually yields a “harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Heb 12: 1, 11). Jesus’ brother, James, reminded Jesus’ followers “scattered among the nations” to “consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:1-2). Paul details salvation by faith for God’s people among both Jews and the nations before reminding his hearers that because of this faith, they all can “rejoice in their sufferings,” because it ultimately leads to hope (Romans 5:3-5).
Cross-joy, discipline-peace, many trials-pure joy, suffering-rejoicing…these seemingly polarized pairs join in a context of Jesus ruling by His Father’s throne (Heb 12:2), “a harvest of righteousness” (Heb 12:11), His followers among the nations (James 1:1), and the hope for the nations through rescuing and restorative faith (Romans 5:5). Life in the mission of God is both playful and painful.
May we all have the childlike freedom to playfully rejoice in the hope before us even while painfully grieving the brokenness that surrounds us. We have not been back to the pool since Jacob cut his chin, but he cannot wait to once again take the plunge down that slide…another reminder that pain will one day pass, bandages will be removed to reveal healed skin, and playing will remain when all things are made new!