Joy And Sorrow Intermingled

Joy And Sorrow Intermingled

Preacher Huijun - 5 March 2022

Weekend Devotion: Joy And Sorrow Intermingled

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Every one of us would have experienced something saddening, disappointing, frightening, or hurting in life. Especially these two years, we face the saddening reality of sickness and death, through the COVID pandemic, then through the recent physical war that broke out in Ukraine. Perhaps some of us have also lost our loved ones, or we are struggling with a painful illness, or we are grieved by delayed prayer answers. Sorrow is a part of life.

But just as sorrows are evident in life, joy is equally present. Just that certain people experience joy more often, while others taste sorrow more frequently. Nonetheless, joy and sorrow are present in every one’s life. And we often thought that joy is mutually exclusive from sorrow. If one feels sorrowful, he cannot at the same time feel joyful, or can he?

In fact, our life experiences tell us that sometimes joy and sorrow come together. For example, we grieve the passing of a loved one, but are relieved that he finally will suffer no more at our Savior’s side. Or you are happy that your kids have finally grown up, got married and started their own families, but you may also be secretly sad that you may now be less important in their lives compared to their own families. Sometimes, a friend’s birthday may be the death anniversary of another relative, and we have mixed feelings on that day. That’s why the Bible tells us: Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief (Prov 14:13). So we see that joy and sorrow can intermingle.

The thing we are interested in is, if we cannot avoid the sorrows of living in this fallen world, then how can we taste joy in the midst of sorrows? The Bible shows us the mystery to this. That is the unique grace a Christian can experience in Christ – sorrowful yet rejoicing, as Paul described in (2 Co 6:10). Why is it unique to Christians? Because for those without Christ, sorrow will just remain as sorrow.

 

With Christ, Christians can have hope of joy in sorrow.

1) On the cross of Christ, we saw sorrow and joy intertwined.

Our Lord Jesus experienced sorrow when He suffered a most cruel death. Yet, He endured it for the joy set before Him (Heb 12:2). Because of Christ’s finished work on the cross, we redeemed Christians can also have joy while we go through the troubles and trials in this world (Jn 16:33; 1 Pe 4:12), since we have the joy of salvation (Ps 51:12).

 

2) No sorrow can separate us from the love of God and the joy in Christ.

We are joyful because whatever sorrows may come, we know we will never be separated from the love of God. As (Ro 8) says: 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Therefore, nothing, no sorrow can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. In other words, nothing can take away our joy in Christ. Even in sorrowful suffering, there can be something to give thanks and rejoice about, just as childbirth pains is mixed with the joy of receiving a newborn life, graveside sorrow is intertwined with the joyful hope of eternal reunion with our Christian loved ones.

While we cannot prevent sorrows from coming at us in this fallen world, we can avoid losing joy. Because the God who is with us in joyful moments is also the same God who comforts us in sorrowful times. That is why Paul urged believers to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Php 4:4). Paul was actually saying that it is possible to be joyful “always”, including when we encounter something sorrowful.

 

Christian joy does not exclude us from sorrows, but our joy in sorrow is a powerful testimony.

1) Even Christians groan.

As (Ro 8) says: 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. We groan because of our sins (cf. Ro 7:14-24), we groan because of the devastating effects and suffering brought by sins. We groan because we see so much brokenness and sorrows in the world. We groan because though we have been saved, we are not yet taken to heaven, the place where there are really no more tears, pains and sorrows (cf. Rev 21:4).

 

2) In this “already-but-not-yet” phase, we may miss the point if we only focus on either joy or sorrow.

If we only focus on celebrating joy, without acknowledging our share of sorrows and pains even as Christians, then we may come across to non-believers as people who are detached from reality. Non-believers may think that we Christians are simply insensitive, because people are suffering from illnesses, poverty, death, etc., and here we are naively talking about joy in an unseen God.

On the other hand, if we only talk about the trials, persecutions and sorrows that we face, we may become unnecessarily disheartened as we forget that God is still in control and in His time, He will make all things beautiful. Or we may make people doubt God’s power and goodness if we only express sorrows in our lives.

In fact, both joy and sorrow are meant to point us to Jesus – the source of our joy and our comfort in sorrow. Earthly sorrows make us long for heaven even more, and the glimpses of joy we taste now also make us look forward to savouring the full measure of joy awaiting us in heaven.

 

3) The world will be amazed by our Christian joy in sorrow.

People without Christ are not used to the idea of “sorrowful yet rejoicing”. People do not know how to be happy in sickness, how to be happy when things don’t go as planned. They only know how to be joyful when they are healthy, have a happy family, a nice job, etc. So if Christians are also only joyful when things go well, the world won’t be surprised. But if we also face sorrows yet can have real joy in our lives, it will then get non-believers’ attention, it will make them curious about why we are able to do so, and hopefully, it will turn them to God.

 

Dear brothers and sisters, I am not sure if you are experiencing more joy or sorrow at this point in life. But no matter what, remember that our joys and sorrows are all meant to draw us to Christ. In this present life, joy and sorrow are intermingled; even in sorrows, we can find joy in Christ; and in our joy, let us not forget that we still have a mission to the broken world around us.

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Preacher Huijun
Preacher Huijun
huijun@lifechurchmissions.com

Huijun joined The Life Church and Missions (Singapore) as a preacher in 2012. She is effectively bilingual and preaches occasionally at the Chinese service. She graduated from Singapore Bible College and currently lives in Singapore with her husband, Chengji.

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