Sorrow and Joy
I’m just wondering… Were you puzzled about my statement at the end of Monday’s post this week? After stating that abiding joy is found only in loving obedience in Christ and that this joy is among the “gifts” of His Spirit living in and through us, I said “It [Joy] is found in only in Christ, and remains — even in times of sorrow.”
Sorrow, yet Joy? How is that possible? And what does that look like? Are you crying… laughing? Aren’t these things opposites by definition?
So far this week our Advent themes have pondered Hope, Peace, and now Joy. Paul referenced all three of these in his letter to the believers in Rome. He wrote, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Rom. 15:13).
In another letter he reminded the sorrowful Thessalonians, that as believers they “do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” (1 Thess 4:13). Why? Because they had hope. In their flesh they may have felt grief, but grief, like happiness, is also temporary. “Weeping may tarry for the night,” wrote the psalmist, “but joy comes with the morning.” (Ps. 30:5).
I know, I know… many sadnesses last much longer than an overnight. But as I sometimes say to believing chronic pain sufferers like myself, “It can only last a lifetime!” And it’s true. Jesus promised us abiding joy, but He also promised us what we should expect of this life… during our sojourn time on this earth. He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). Or as some translations have it, “Be of good cheer!”
The joy Jesus gives “no man can take away.” This joy is your possession forever in Christ. Though you may feel sorrow, you have joy! What you feel is fleeting, but what you have is eternal. Think on this truth when life is hard; “…the joy of the Lord is your strength,” said Nehemiah (Neh. 4:8). Let it bring strength to you!
“So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (John 16:22).