Sorrow Turned to Joy

  • Randy Karlberg

We are experiencing a great deal of sorrow in our culture right now. Many are struggling with different heartache, anger, and pain. It is always a challenge to see what God is up to when we are going through agony and hurt. But God is always at work even when we don’t see His purposes. In John 16, Jesus was talking with His disciples, preparing them for a time in their very near future when they would go through tremendous pain and discouragement. Jesus, who they believed was the Holy One of God, would end up being beaten beyond recognition and killed by being hung on a crude cross. How could they process this? Where is the joy in that?

The example He used to explain was that of a woman going through childbirth. John 16:19-22 says;

“Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me?’ 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.” (John 16:19-22)

I have a good deal of experience being around a woman who is about to give birth or is giving birth to a child. I was in on the delivery of four out of our five children. The other I experienced on speaker-phone. I have experienced my wonderful daughter-in-law’s mood switch to cantankerous when the time came for her to get to the hospital. I currently have a daughter and two daughter-in-laws who are pregnant. Yes I am a proud Grandpa! I fully realize that childbirth is not for wimps!! In my opinion, God designed women to deliver children because He knew men wouldn’t be able to handle it! It takes everything out of a woman. And then they get to meet their little bundle of Joy!! They may still remember the previous hour to 96 hours of labor, but somehow past pain is lost in present joy. It was worth it. It was worth all that pain because they get to hold and bond with their child! The bonding of a mother and her child really is an amazing part of what is a truly miraculous experience.

So when Jesus used this example, at least everyone who is a parent can understand exactly what He is talking about! They didn’t understand exactly what he was telling them regarding His death at this point, but they fully knew the joy a mother feels after coming through the struggle and sorrow of labor. This sorrow-to-joy principle is one that we will have lesson after lesson on throughout our entire life on this earth. We will have tremendous struggle, pain, sorrow, and yes, even injustice. But God is in the business of using this pain to bring about the joy that is found in seeing ourselves as God sees us, only because of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. When we accurately understand the sinful nature of our heart, only then can we fully appreciate the true peace and deliverance through Jesus Christ.

With this in mind, let’s read Jesus’ words in the last verse of John 16 , verse 33:

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

If you believe the Words of Jesus, then how can you not have present joy? And how can you not look forward to the joy that He has planned as we see His overcoming the world take place before our very eyes? God is in control! He has got this! We just need to trust, walk in obedience, and rest in the peace that only He can give. Rest in His peace!