“We were promised sufferings,” wrote C. S. Lewis . “They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.”
So true. It’s one thing to read about sorrow and suffering. Quite another to experience it.
As Jesus approached the final hours of his life, He tried to prepare his followers for the grief they were about to experience, but also encourage them to trust that their sorrow would turn into joy.
When the Passover feast ended, and Jesus taught the lesson on humility and ministry through washing the disciples feet, they began walking across the Kedron valley to the Garden of Gethsemane. As Thursday turned into Friday the disciples hearts became heavy. Mournful. Plaintive. Jesus knew and understood their sadness. And so he encouraged them, “let not your hearts be troubled.”
But they were troubled. Fretful. Afraid. They felt the impending end, if not the death of their Master and His ministry. For over three years they had walked with Him. Learned from Him. Been mentored by Him. And now somehow it was all about to come to an abrupt end. Indeed they were forlorn.
“Knowing their troubled hearts Jesus gave them hope when He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (John 16:20-22)
On this day they would weep. Suffer shame. Feel pain. Experience abandonment. Their mental, emotional and spiritual anguish would be like the physical anguish a woman feels in giving child-birth. All the while the enemies are laughing. Taunting. Rejoicing.
But just as Jesus predicted, it would all change. Sorrow would give way to joy. Pain would be eased. Troubled hearts would be soothed. Tortured souls would be relieved. Sadness turned to gladness because Jesus arose. He overcame sin, death and the devil. His enemies could not silence Him. The grave could not hold Him. And the Devil could not stop Him. Yes, on resurrection Sunday sad hearts became glad hearts.
And so it is today. We all face our days of discontent. Trouble. Pain. Sorrow. Sometimes it’s hard to be happy. It’s difficult to rejoice. The heart is filled with anguish, pain and woe. And too often we find ourselves looking at our circumstances instead at Christ. It’s so easy to say, “Why me, Lord?” Instead of saying, “Thy will be done.”
When we feel the pressure of life’s trouble, remember a better day is coming! Indeed our grief will turn to joy. Our hurts will be healed. Our hearts will be mended. Our souls will be strengthened. If we will embrace the heartache, it will give birth to hope. Peace. Delight. And through it all we will grow. Learn. And develop greater trust. Just like the disciples did.
Regardless of what is going on in your life today, stay focused on Jesus. And in it you will also find your sorrow being transformed to joy beyond measure.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman