Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
Once Christ is revealed in a life, everything is seen differently from that point on. The world and its agenda can no longer hold the same allure that it once had, and though a believer may return to it for a period he will never feel at home there for he has a higher calling and a greater home. Our sympathies run along different paths from the world’s values and what makes them rejoice can cause us to mourn.
Christ spoke about grief turning to joy, and grief’s nature is to strike at the very center of our hearts, that place where we hold our hopes that define us. By the grace and power of God the very things that almost destroy us, when placed in His hands, can become tools to redefine us as recipients of grace. The grief of the disciples at the cross did literally turn to joy as they saw the cross in new light, that there God gave the Son for the sins of the world. He described more here than just the consolation of the resurrection, and pointed to the cross itself as changing for the disciples, in their understanding and in their sympathies.
The truth applies to our lives at many points, and just as Paul’s thorn in the flesh took him deeper in his understanding that the grace of God was sufficient for him, so pain and sorrow and difficulty, when placed in God’s hands, become moments where we learn deeper truths – ones that we would never have learned through other means. This does not mean that bad becomes good, or that pain becomes pleasure, or misery joy, and so on. Rather it means that the unbearable sorrow of one moment becomes the vehicle to a more profound experience of grace and power the next.
Malcolm Muggeridge wrote:
Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my 75 years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my experience, has been through affliction and not through happiness.
It is the peculiar work of God’s Spirit to take that which creates sorrow and re-interpret it to the point that joy erupts from our souls. So we can say with confidence, “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Lord, take our sorrows and do Your miraculous work in our souls. Turn grief into joy. Amen.