Advent – December 17th

Joy Born Out of Sorrow

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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” (John 16:20).  Tragedy is met with a deep sorrow and heaviness that darkens even the desire to live.  Sleep is the only relief from the waking nightmare, and a deep breath erupts in tears.  After a time, the crushing emptiness begins to lift, and one day, you catch yourself smiling.  The joy that comes after the storm is the sweetest.  Good Friday seemed like the worst day on earth, but it was the means by which God saved the world.  Without it, there would have been no Easter joy.

 Psalm 126:5-7

Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses of the Negev.  Those who sowed with tears will reap with songs of joy.  Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed, will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

Isaiah 61:1-3

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; . . . to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.


A missionary once explained the passage about “sowing in tears” this way.  In an agrarian culture, some of the crop is saved each year for planting in the spring.  It is an insurance policy against starvation, for if calamity strikes, they still have the seed to eat before they die.  But, when spring comes, they must give up the seed to the soil, trusting that what they have left will sustain them until harvest.  Thus, it is with heaviness that they empty the storehouse.  Several months later, the crops come in, and they replenish their granaries.  The sorrow has turned to joy.

Joy that is born out of sorrow is all the sweeter because we remember the pain.  The Isaiah passage was set to a song in the 70s–:”He gave me beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, a mantle of praise for the spirit of heaviness. . . “  The first time I heard that chorus I was told that it had been sung at the funeral of a promising young man who had died in a tragic accident.  The mourners erupted into singing at the graveside, much the same way our family began to sing when we buried my grandmother.  At that time, the pastor whispered in my ear, “Don’t worry, Elaine, you’ll see her again.”  A reminder that my sorrow would turn to joy one day.

Because Jesus came, I know that “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21::4).  Jesus brings us joy out of sorrow.


” Lord, at this time of the year, we remember those who are no longer with us.  We are sometimes crushed beneath the sorrows that come in this life.  Alone, we cannot get through these things without deep scars.  But you come alongside of us and remind us that “this too shall pass” because you will wipe away every tear at the resurrection.  As we go through our personal Good Fridays, assure us of the resurrection that will come in the morning. ” Amen

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Paul was a preacher and teacher until he retired in 2015. He continues to write and listen to what God is saying to him in the ordinary and extraordinary things of life. Elaine was a public school teacher and administrator until she retired in 2018. She is using her retirement to reflect on God's work in her life and to share insights with her family and friends.

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