The Marriage of Joy and Agony


By: Amber Kleiman


Luke 1:38: “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word….”

At first glance, maybe it seems as if Mary had it made.  She was the earthly vessel through which God in flesh appeared.  What an honor, and what a heartache.  In her surrender to God’s will, she embraced two very different emotions.  She accepted joy, along with agony.  With one arm, she cradled the unbridled ecstasy of being chosen to carry God’s only begotten.  Then we turn and see what she holds in the other.  A sword…the sword of sorrow that would pierce her heart. 

Oh, how Mary rejoiced at the raising of the dead, the lame being healed and the opening of blind eyes.  Yet the sword would nick her heart as she heard the false accusations.  With one final thrust, it plunged deeply into her heart as she watched the nails driven into the hands and feet of her firstborn son. 

Through a young girl’s submission to God’s will, joy and agony met together and created a divine masterpiece.  She could have refused the sword; who could blame her?  But what of the joy?  The redemption of mankind!

It may seem like a wild swing, from one end of the spectrum of human emotion to the other.  Joy...agony.  Could any two emotions be farther apart?  Truth be told, they’re married.  You rarely see one without the other in the word of God.  Hebrews 12:2 is a perfect example.

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Just like Jesus, there will be times when we must use spiritual “x-ray” vision.  We will be called upon to look “through” the agony to see the joy.  Pain is never easy.  How many times have we cried out, “Let this cup pass from me”?  Or, like Paul, we’ve entreated the Lord to remove the thorn.

My sincere prayer is that God will help me look beyond the thorn and past the cross.  As the thorn digs deeper and the cross weighs heavier, may I remind myself once again that…“…the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).


Amber was born in the Dominican Republic to missionaries Jerry and Beth Burns and is currently working as Minister of Music along with her husband, who is the assistant pastor of Living Word Church, in Rio Rancho, NM.  They have two children, Renee who is 8, and Joel who is 11 months old.  She enjoys reading, writing, singing, and playing piano/organ.



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