“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.”
I’ll always remember what is was like to watch my wife give birth to our four children. I had to learn my place in the process—close enough but not too close—but it was amazing to see all of her pain and hard work turn immediately into joy and relief once she saw (and heard) that baby! After months of discomfort and hours of intense pain…in an instant…the entire experience was completely transformed. Jesus could not have picked a better analogy for his disciples on the precipice of his arrest and crucifixion…and it still holds true for us, today.
Charles Spurgeon noted that, “It is most remarkable and instructive that the apostles do not appear in their sermons or epistles to have spoken of the death of our Lord with any kind of regret. The gospels mention their distress during the actual occurrence of the crucifixion, but after the resurrection, and especially after Pentecost, we hear of no such grief.” Their sorrow had been turned into joy. God did not cover it up, nor did he remove it. He transformed it. The deep sorrow they would experience in the coming hours and days became the raw material that God would use to create a newfound level of joy.
There are many things that cause us to be sorrowful. I’m sure you can conjure up a list of dark days from your past…or perhaps you are in the midst of them as you read this. The death of a loved one. The dissolution of a marriage. The difficult days brought on by a prodigal child. Financial difficulties that seem insurmountable. The loss of a job. The betrayal of a friend. The list goes on and on, of course, and it seems that sorrow is built into the very fabric of our lives. Without God, those sorrows will just be open wounds or scars that never quite heal. With God, you can rest assured that every one of them will be transformed into a joy that will never fade…either in this life, or the next.
I often say that nothing gets wasted in God’s economy. He certainly doesn’t operate like the federal government. Paul captured this so well when he wrote, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18). Every tear. Every painful loss. Every heartbreak. Every sorrow. They will all be transformed into an eternal weight of glory…a joy that will never end.
”…and your hearts will rejoice.”