Bible Society of South Africa

Our grief turning into joy – 20 April 2023

By Ewald Schmidt

Bible text(s)

Sadness and Gladness

16“In a little while you will not see me any more, and then a little while later you will see me.”

John 16:16GNBOpen in Bible reader

20I am telling you the truth: you will cry and weep, but the world will be glad; you will be sad, but your sadness will turn into gladness. 21When a woman is about to give birth, she is sad because her hour of suffering has come; but when the baby is born, she forgets her suffering, because she is happy that a baby has been born into the world. 22That is how it is with you: now you are sad, but I will see you again, and your hearts will be filled with gladness, the kind of gladness that no one can take away from you.

John 16:20-22GNBOpen in Bible reader

Every person has this intense desire to be happy. We all seek times of joy in our lives. We experience joy when things go better than expected. We experience happiness and joy when our bodies perform well in sport, better than expected. This is also true for our relationships in life, in our place of work, basically in everything we do.

Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Jesus is our joy in life when we know and follow him as Lord, as we have seen in John 15:12. The apostle Paul also commanded in Philippians 4:4 that we should rejoice in the Lord, always, whatever the circumstances may be at that time.

We, however, also know times of grief. Jesus said in Matthew 5:4 that we are blessed when we mourn for all that has gone wrong in this world, including in our own lives. Today’s verse continues this theme. We are living in the time between Jesus’ ascension and his return. In this time period, we should expect times of mourning. We will experience the sadness of a broken world when it could be so much better. This world could almost feel like paradise if everyone knew Jesus as Lord and lived by his principles of love. Can you imagine a world where everyone loved everyone else in the way that Jesus loves them (John 15:12)!

This is the inner struggle that every believer faces today. On the one hand, we are extremely grateful to know Jesus as our Lord, and to see how he heals and transforms our lives. We experience his joy when our own lives, relationships and circumstances in daily life are being transformed for the better. On the other hand, we mourn the brokenness in our own lives and the world around us, not yet transformed to the image of Christ. Jesus says that this is to be expected; it is like the birth pains of a new world, the kingdom of God. When Jesus returns, the time for mourning will be gone forever. We now live in the expectation of Jesus’ return. We look forward to that day when there will be no more tears of sadness. This is Jesus’ promise today: the mourning we experience in these times is temporary, it will pass. The future is filled with eternal joy when we live with Christ, forever more. In addition, no one will be able to steal this joy!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are my joy in this life. It is the greatest joy to know you and to follow where you lead me. But, I mourn for the brokenness that sin has caused in this world, including in my own life. Help me to be part of your answer to the world’s pain. Help me to be a vessel for your love and grace, wherever I may go. Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.20
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