Recently, I came across something written by the philosopher/writer, Kahlil Gibran, regarding the contrast between joy and sorrow. Here's what he had to say:
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow, that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
And so it seems that, in order to truly appreciate joy, one must first experience the contrast: pain and sorrow. I thought about this for awhile, and realized that, it's true. If your life is constantly filled with happy things and there are few disappointments, you can't really feel contentment and the relief of knowing all is well with your soul. It's interesting to note that within every person, there is the capacity to rejoice and to mourn. These actions come from the same place -- the seat of our emotions -- the heart.
Perhaps it seems cruel to suggest that a certain amount of pain is necessary for one to fully grow into the person that they are destined to become, but I have to say that those that I find the most real, the most credible people that I know, have experienced tragedy and lived to tell the tale. These are the ones who know how to laugh and to love in spite of all adversity, and who truly appreciate the relief of joyous times, however random and infrequent they might be. We would all love to have things go our way and to find happiness at every turn, but in reality, this is not the best path for us. This is not what will build our character or draw us outside ourselves and into a relationship with our Creator and our fellow human beings. It is only in the loss of our desires, and in the pain that we experience being deprived of those things, that we develop an appreciation for how beautiful life truly is, and what a gift each day brings.