Yesterday I surrounded my table with friends, and we served a dinner my husband took hours to create. It was a wonderful evening. Also yesterday, headlines read of two separate, horrible acts of violence that killed people. My social media scroll also told of people close to me who were sick, dying, divorcing, burying loved ones, broke, suffering, and lonely.

Another mom and I were talking about this question of how do we exist in this broken world that holds so much evil and pain? How can we be happy? How can we teach our kids to be happy? I’m guessing that this tension—between life and death, gifts and loss, peace and fear, beauty and pain—has existed since the dawn of creation.

The other day, I enjoyed the most magnificent sunset while stuck in terrible traffic caused by a fatal accident. What do you do with that? At exactly the same time and place, there’s an awe-inspiring sunset that reminds me of the beauty God can create, as well as the obvious loss and heartbreak a few hundred yards away.

I think the answer is that we have to hold both realities in our hearts. We can let the awful stuff make the beauty even more precious. We bring as much love and beauty into the world as we can, and we celebrate that! And when we come up to the ugly, hard stuff, we remember that Jesus said in this world we will have tribulation, but that He has overcome the world, therefore we can be of good cheer.1

We can find joy in knowing that God is in control, that He is the overcomer. I don’t know that I could deal with all the bad stuff if I didn’t have faith in Jesus; if I couldn’t open my Bible and read about the faith of Jesus’ early followers whose lives were so far from easy, but who carried on. They were overcomers as well, able to be light and love and hope in a dark and broken world.

My answer to whether we can know joy in this messy world is a resounding “Yes”! I’m more convinced of it than ever!

  1. See John 16:33.