Song of Joy Behind Lament

Editor’s note: International Women’s Day was observed on March 8. In honor of the contributions of Christian woman, we wanted to highlight a story from one Chinese sister. This moving essay, which first appeared in 2021, is a story of how a woman’s personal experience of suffering led her to see and rejoice more deeply in Christ. Her experience centers on miscarriage, a common but devastating experience for many women.


Fear Often Roared

I have gone through two surgeries in the past six months.

The first was related to the loss of my unborn baby. The second surgery addressed a problem caused by the previous surgery.

I got the pathology report in mid-February, and the result was good. I was thankful God was merciful, and did not put a burden on me I could not bear. As I waited for the report, I had many internal fears. My body was recovering, but the inner battle never stopped. I kept preparing for the worst. I thought: “If suffering comes, how should I face it?”

This new year was filled with apprehension. But at the same time, there was peace within. Yet the cloud of fear remained – sometimes high, sometimes low – floating above my head.

One night I read my daughter a picture book about a dog called Fearless: Sons and Daughter. The title grabbed me; I remembered I should be a fearless daughter of Christ. My inner fears needed to be calmed by the truth. In the story, the dog, named Fearless, was afraid of everything, including goldfish in the pond. He thought the goldfish were sharks, so he kept his family away from the pond. The last page of the book had a drawing of a goldfish with shark teeth. The dog’s name did not match his behavior, and his fear was ridiculous.

I kept preparing for the worst. I thought: ‘If suffering comes, how should I face it?’

I laughed after I read it, because I saw myself. I too had unfounded fears and was afraid of the “teeth of the goldfish.” So what if they were really shark’s teeth? The deadly poisonous hooks were removed by the Lord; of what was I afraid? During the sermon, we read Hebrews 2:14: “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” I was in tears. Although I am a child, I live as a slave.

Lies still attacked my weaknesses. I was confronted with my fears, fears that scared me to tears before surgery and gave me a splitting headache after, when I thought about the pathology results. Truth subdued the fear, but it also often roared. In one of my devotions, I read about Jesus walking on water. I was amazed how a short verse had so many words to describe fear: “terrified,” “cried out in fear,” “afraid.” Jesus did not rebuke the disciples, but responded, “Do not be afraid…you of little faith.” I buried myself in God’s Word to fight Satan’s lies.

Holding Onto Lies

The Bible is full of lament when it comes to fear. One prophet after another was called to suffer and preach the Messiah’s message in an eccentric, almost insane, way. The apostles suffered. Paul wrote, “Our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within.” This is not to mention Jesus’s suffering. Suffering seems the only right way to live, yet I avoided it. I thought God would fulfill his good will by giving me suffering. I thought I deserved cancer and death, and must undergo suffering to fulfill God’s plan, the only way to glorify God.  If God wills, I must obey and accept his providence. I can’t escape his hand anyway. But I am not like Jesus in the garden, obedient to death. My nature wants escape, but I know escaping brings greater suffering.

In the midst of such challenge, I could not pray, “Thy will be done.” I was anxious I would become bitter and resent God. I was afraid I would not be able to bear the call of suffering. I tried to cheer myself, but God only showed me my own cowardice and how scary the enemy is. Yet, when I finally confronted the enemy with trembling, I found the trumpet of victory had been blown. The enemy had turned into clouds of smoke.


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When I finally confronted the enemy with trembling, I found the trumpet of victory had been blown. The enemy had turned into clouds of smoke.


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I held onto a lie. I was afraid of becoming holy, because the closer I got to holiness, the more I learned my lessons of dealing with sin, which meant God would take me away. (This was my application of the verse, “the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”) Now, the closer I get to the Lord of holiness, the more I realize how deeply rooted my sins are, and the more I thank God for his salvation and grace to an unworthy person like me.

I do not need to fear being struck down for not being holy enough, or being taken away for being too holy – holiness does not come from within, but is external, coming to me. I do not need to guess God’s heart. I just need the Holy Spirit: to repent of my sins, follow the Lord’s leadership in each step, and to receive every grace he gives.

Suffering Points to Joy

When I got the pathology report, I learned I was safe and sound. The doctor said I could prepare for the next pregnancy. I was thankful for God’s endless mercy, but struggled with whether I was ready to welcome a new child. Paul’s life-and-death dilemmas were for the Lord, while my considerations were for myself. I began to worry again about how to live the rest of my life. I knew I could not either handle peace or suffering, so no matter the situation, there was new anxiety.

After the miscarriage, I saw doctors and took various medicines to prepare for a safe pregnancy. However, each doctor prescribed different regimens. One doctor callously questioned the previous regimen and the pain I faced from potential risks. I questioned if I was ready to carry a second child. I wondered if all the struggling was my putting my own intentions ahead of God’s.

I saw the fulfillment of a greater promise, one the eager eyes of the prophets never saw; I saw the song of joy behind the song of lamentation. All suffering points to the greater and ultimate joy. I cannot stay in lament. I want to hear the psalm of joy.

The night I received the pathology report, I was walking by the river. Suddenly, I wept, remembering my miscarried child. That very day was his due date. After eight months, I returned to the original point. My hopes for a second child became a longing that burned in my heart. My hopes became a journey that required me to face my heart. It exposed my fears and worries as I waited before God.

At the end of his gospel, Luke recorded the disciples’ emotions. They did not believe Jesus had risen. When they saw Jesus, they were frightened and worried. Not until Jesus opened their hearts, blessed them, and they saw him ascend to heaven with their own eyes did they turn to joy. My own heart was also slow to believe. Because I saw the suffering of Jesus and the apostles, I carried my cross with trembling. My eyes were confused.

Then, suddenly, I understood. I saw the fulfillment of a greater promise, one the eager eyes of the prophets never saw; I saw the song of joy behind the song of lamentation. All suffering points to the greater and ultimate joy. I cannot stay in lament. I want to hear the psalm of joy. My story is no longer my own, it is about him. My life is no longer mine: it is Christ in me, echoing my dirge with the symphony of his joyful song.

He died for me and left me his peace. I will live well for him.


Wang Jianguo is a collective pseudonym for a group of urban Chinese house church pastors committed to preaching the gospel of grace. This writer is a pastor’s wife. She and her family live in a large city in eastern China.

Pray for Chinese believers to experience how suffering leads us to joy in Christ.

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Further Reading

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The External Cross: A Pastoral Letter
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Qingdao: Locals and Outsiders
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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