Joy and Pain


Make no mistake, I have the best job/call in the world. It is an honor to walk daily with the men and women of Nashville and beyond who are un-housed, newly housed, or precariously living in poverty.

However, I am reminded daily that this job/call comes with both joys and pains. Not one of us should be surprised that we can not hope (or fear) to abide in either joy or pain forever; everything is a season and seasons change, shift, move on…

We are told in the third chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes that there is a season for everything. To be born and to die; to plant and to pluck up; to kill and to heal; to break down and to build up; to weep and to laugh; to mourn and to dance; to throw away stones and to gather stones; to embrace and to pull away; to seek and to lose; to keep and to throw away; to tear and to sew; to be silent and to speak; to love and to hate; for war and for peace.

Joy and pain is woven all throughout this beautiful piece of scripture found in the Old Testament. A timely reminder for us that both joy and pain are a part of life. And I have experienced both these past few days.

I abided in joy when I finally closed a huge chapter of my life at Memphis Theological Seminary this past weekend. Abided in joy when handed my Masters of Divinity degree along with many, many beloved friends that made that journey with me. Then joy gave way to pain as I drove away from that school and those good friends, wondering when we might meet again…there is a season for everything, to weep and to laugh.

I abided in pain while in Memphis that I could not be with other beloved friends who were fighting against the “powers that be” to keep their humble home…all that they have in this world…along the banks of the Cumberland River back in Nashville. Then pain gave way to joy as I read the text that the camp raid was cancelled and (for now) the “powers that be” will allow the housing process to run its course without disrupting the fragile existence my friends have established along the river…there is a season for everything, to mourn and to dance.

I abided in pain every time I read a frustrated Facebook post from a friend waiting for what seemed like forever to obtain housing for him and his best four-legged friend, Baby Girl. Pain because I knew they had no where to sleep at night until the apartment was inspected. Pain because they had to sleep outside on steps, risking arrest and risking their safety. Then pain gave way to joy when my friend signed his lease Monday afternoon and I was finally able to deliver the furniture I had been holding for him to his NEW HOME…there is a season for everything, to break down and to build up.

I abided in joy that a friend was about to turn the corner in life, obtain housing, and defeat the demons of addiction that have plagued him for so long. Then joy¬† gave way to pain when I realized that nothing is that simple, that turning a corner can be much like turning a battleship in the ocean, and that the demons of addiction do not give up without a fight…there is a season for everything, to seek and to lose.

So, may your days be filled with seasons of joy and pain, for reality is we are not allowed to abide in one or the other forever and ever. Seasons change, shift, and move on. Joy and pain perform a twisted, beautiful dance together in all of our lives, and I think we just need to be okay with that fact.


Shalom U’vracha,
Rev. Lisa Cook
Street Chaplain @ Sacred Sparks Ministry

“Love works, it’s up to us”