The Painful Side of Joy

Adam and Eve

For many of us, our greatest joy has to do with our relationships. That’s’ because God created us to connect with Him and with one another. Otherwise, He would have left man alone in the garden. Hmmm. That’s an interesting thought. Do you suppose Adam would have eaten the forbidden fruit if Eve hadn’t been there? That’s something to think about, isn’t it?

For now, I want to share with you one more thing I’ve learned about joy. The source of our greatest joy can also be the source of our deepest heartache.

Our two youngest daughters are only nineteen months apart. When we brought Lisa home from the hospital, I sat on the couch holding her so Katie could meet her sister. Curious, Katie hovered over what she thought was her new baby doll. But, when Lisa moved and made noises, Katie’s eyes popped wide open. That’s when the mothering began. As you can imagine, that didn’t necessarily enhance the relationship between two sisters almost the same age.

Later, when they were older, the girls became very close. I’ll never forget the day we all stood in our front yard and said goodbye to Katie and Brian, her new military husband. Our two youngest daughters cried as if their hearts were broken. Through my own flood of tears, I came to a simple but profound conclusion.

Love is painful. And it is. The closer we are to one another, the more it hurts to be pulled apart. Especially when the relationship is intertwined with God, Himself. Why is this?

Ecclesiastes 4:12 reminds us “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Whether it’s through a natural separation or sadly, through unresolved conflict, love hurts, doesn’t it? And yet, healthy, growing relationships with God and one another are worth fighting for. Aren’t they?


To experience and sustain three-stranded relationships, let’s agree to ask ourselves the following questions and to personally consider the suggestions:

  1. Is my relationship right with God? Is there is any unconfessed sin or barrier between God and me? Suggestion: If so, I will agree to:
  • Talk to God about it. (Psalm 32:3-5)
  • Thank Him for His forgiveness, made possible by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. (I John 1:9-2:2)
  • Invite the Holy Spirit to cleanse my heart and to empower me to live moment-by-moment in His gracious control. (Psalm 32:8-9; Ephesians 3:20)

2. Are my relationships with others healthy and growing? Suggestion: If not, I’ll agree to:

  • Ask God to remind me of anyone with whom I have unresolved conflict. I will pray for God to love and forgive the person through me. (John 13:34; Colossians 1:29)
  • If I need to, I will go to the  person and ask her to forgive me for the heartache I may have caused in the relationship. (Matthew 5:23-24; Ephesians 4:32)
  • If the person is willing, I’ll ask her to pray with me. For there is no better healing power than God’s hand at work in the hearts of likeminded people. (James 5:16)
  • If the other person isn’t a believer, I will commit to love and pray for her whether she responds or not. In the meantime, I will ask God to enable me to live at peace with everyone, as far as it depends upon me. (Romans 12:18; Matthew 5:43-44)

Now, back to the blame game in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve doubted God’s Word, selfish desires led to disobedience.  The same is true for us. Unbelief and disobedience will always threaten our most valued relationships.

Would Adam have eaten the forbidden fruit if Eve hadn’t been there? I don’t know but I can’t blame Eve for the fall. I’m pretty sure I would have found my own reasons to reach for that fruit. And of course, I’d want to share my new found independence. Misery loves company, right?

From that day on, even the best relationships sometimes get messy. That’s why it’s important for us to stay open and honest with God and one another. Take heart; we won’t have to sew  fig leaves together to cover our shame. God has already taken care of that on the cross.

The truth is God loves us and wants us to move beyond the pain of relationships to unmitigated joy. Sure, there’ll be heartaches; they come with the package. But the rewards are well worth the work it takes to grow healthy relationships.


Leave a comment and tell me what you think.

woman on computer

8 Responses to “The Painful Side of Joy”
  1. Deb says:

    I really enjoyed this and it certainly gives fruit for thought! Thank you for your insight.

  2. You’re so right, Liz. Hurts are inevitable in relationships. It’s interesting that those are the things God uses to grow us and conform us to the image of Christ.

  3. Pam says:

    I met your daughter (Mary Beth) this past weekend and she forward your blog to me.
    I really enjoyed it. Your words brightened my !

    • That’s so neat, Pam. I’m so glad you met Mary Beth. And I appreciate your checking out and subscribing to my blog. I hope you enjoy it and find it worthwhile. Thanks for connecting with me in this way.

  4. Lisa says:

    I just reread this as I was going through old mail…funny how God uses things when HE knows they’re MOST needed!
    Thanks for you’re words of wisdom mama!! We are all soooo blessed by God through you!

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