Grief and Sorrow, Joy and Gladness
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. but He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5
Life Was Never Meant to be a 50/50 Balance Between Good and Evil
Despite my earnest desire to see and to believer that life was never meant to be a 50/50 balance between good and evil, good times and bad or grief and joy, there is a day to day reality that seeks to tempt me toward surrendering my faith to the old adage, which is not scriptural by the way, “Hope for the best and expect the worst.” I know people say that to guard against the sorrow or grief of disappoint. But, from the point of view of faith in Jesus Christ, that is nuts! And it is opposed to everything that the Bible teaches or that Jesus demonstrated in the His ministry on earth. The phrase is also often rendered “Hope for the best but prepare for the worse.” Why not hope for the best and prepare for the best? Our expectation is (should be) tied to our faith. Yes, we should be prudent in preparing for the future. Laying aside something for the time when you are no longer able to earn your living as when you were younger. But when we pray we should do so with an expectation that God will hear us and answer out petitions because He has promised to be our provider.
“For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. Philippians 1:19-20
If you truly believe something will happen when you pray, then you fully expect it to happen. You can’t really both believe one thing and expect the opposite. That is double mindedness which clearly results in receiving nothing from God. [James 1:8-9]
Yes, save for a rainy day. That’s wise. And lay up store in the seasons of plenty to have a resource in the seasons of scarcity. But the expectation of disappoint while you are hoping for success is cancelling out whatever faith you may be trying to exercise.
I don’t know about you, but I have always believed the truth and rational thought are not incompatible ideas. In fact, they cooperate with one another. The one establishes the other. God defines what is rational, reasonable and logical, but man’s wisdom alone cannot fully grasp that, so to gain true understanding of Heavenly things we have to suspend and yield our human limited rationale (understanding of life) for God’s wisdom that comes from above.
When we do that, we regain peace of mind about earthly things that don’t immediately make sense in earthly terms. Here is what God has said to those who have ears to hear.
“Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.” Isaiah 55:6-8
We don’t naturally respond to life like God. We must learn to think and act like Him. That is the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Yes. We grieve loss. Jesus grieved and wept over Jerusalem because they were unwilling to believe that He is the Messiah for whom they for generations had so earnestly prayed, but they rejected Him when He came to bring them the salvation that was promised to them. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Like every other human being He knew sorrow at the deepest levels of human experience. When John the Baptist was beheaded, when Lazarus died, when in the Garden of Eden as he prayed before He was arrested and taken to be crucified, He was filled with sorrow.
“Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” Matthew 26:38
He knows our sorrows and He understands our griefs. But He has promised that we will not sorrow without hope and joy will come again. So what is our natural state of being, joy or sorrow?
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11
Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16:24
And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” 1John 1:4
Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.” 2 John 12
Though sorrow does come into our lives it is not fundamental to our lives as born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are now the sons of God and our true home is Heaven. In Heaven there is no sorrow or tears. While we are on earth we are subjected to sorrow because the whole of creation is under the curse of sin. Death is still present in this world. But we who belong to Christ get to enjoy life and rejoice in the Lord despite the darkness that is in the world. We are the children of light.
Our normal state of being is joy and gladness in an attitude of love and thanksgiving to God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us to will and to do of God’s good pleasure. Sorrow is the anomaly in our lives that comes and goes. Life and that more abundantly is what Jesus has bought for us, and brought to us, to live in us, and shine through us, to bring joy and life, and that more abundantly to the world.
“…but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:13
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls”. 1 Peter 1:3-9
Today’s Hymn of Praise
Sing Praise To God Who Reigns Above
Sing praise to God who reigns above, the God of all creation, the God of power, the God of love, the God of our salvation. With healing balm my soul He fills and every faithless murmur stills: To God all praise and glory.
2 The Lord is never far away, but through all grief distressing, an ever-present help and stay, our peace and joy and blessing. As with a mother's tender hand, He gently leads the chosen band: To God all praise and glory.
3 Thus all my toilsome way along, I sing aloud Thy praises, that earth may hear the grateful song my voice unwearied raises. Be joyful in the Lord, my heart, both soul and body bear your part: To God all praise and glory.
4 Let all who name Christ's holy name give God all praise and glory; let all who own his power proclaim aloud the wondrous story! Cast each false idol from its throne, the Lord is God and He alone: To God all praise and glory.
Author: Johann Jakob Schütz
Translator: Frances Elizabeth Cox