What is more primeval, joy or pain, life or death? We would claim that life is more primitive than death, as existence precedes non-existence. Love comes before grief and hope runs ahead of despair, therefore, joy is more primal and profound than pain. Why, though, does joy come first? For a simple reason, while in pain we long for what makes us happy. In a similar vein, according to Friedrich Nietzsche, Zarathustra said: “Pleasure-deeper still than suffering of heart! Hurt cries out vanish! But all delight longs for eternity, for deep, deep eternity.”
Have you ever wondered why Christianity is uniquely a religion of joy even though at its centre stands the excruciatingly painful crucifixion of Christ? It is because behind the mountain of Golgotha, where Christ was crucified, stands the sun of the world of resurrection, because Jesus, the Crucified One has appeared on earth in the radiance of the eternal divine life.
In Christ the new creation of the transformed world begins. The apostle Paul expresses this with his logic of “more than that;” but where sin increased, grace increased all the more (Rom.5:20). Grace indeed is mightier than sin. Paul also describes Jesus, saying, “Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life” (Rom. 8:34). That is why pain will be transformed into joy, and mortal life give way to life eternal.
In light of Christ’s triumph over death, resurrection laughs at death, filling us with hope and everlasting joy. Therefore, Paul, who had earlier been beaten and stoned due to his faithfulness to Christ, amazes his readers while speaking of rejoicing in his sufferings (Col. 1:24). Our soul too may be troubled when we feel detached from God. But when in silence we hear God speak to us, we celebrate, as joy is ours in the midst of pain.