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Sorrow Turned to Joy

In John 16, Jesus explains to the disciples that they will face sorrow, especially as he will be leaving them. But he encourages them that in the future, this sorrow will be turned to Joy when they see him again.

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Jesus Valedictory Speech

Good Morning. As we begin, I want to refresh you on a term you probably haven’t heard in quite a long time, the Valedictorian Speech. If you remember it, it’s a talk where someone stood in front of you, as you prepared to graduate from something, and gave you the final words you would hear before you go on to face a new world.

Did you know that, in the Bible, there are two very prominent speeches just like that? The Book of Deuteronomy is Moses’ Valedictorian Speech to the people of Israel.

Moses is about to die, and he has been with these people for forty years through the desert. He knows their stubbornness, and their tendency for selfishness. He knows they are entering the Promised Land and is afraid they will forget about the Lord who saved them. So Moses gathers Israel and gives them a speech saying that he won’t be with them anymore, but that doesn’t mean their faithfulness to God should waver.

Jesus also gives one as well in John’s Gospel, which goes on for 4 chapters, beginning in John 13, and ending in John 16. Our lesson today is taken from the end of this speech, where the focus of Jesus encouragement is preparing His disciples for times when they will struggle in their faithfulness because the pains of this world will try to shifted their focus away from the glorious future Jesus has prepared for us, because we have become so distracted by the needs of this world. Certainly a problem as appropriate today as it was then.

In reading the Epistle and Gospel lesson, both Peter and Jesus seem to be very understanding that, despite the fact that we are Christians, the things of this world will do their best to confuse us and keep us from trusting God. The foolishness of the thought that as Christians, we should never be confused with what God is doing has cause great turmoil in the lives of Christians. St Peter writes in chapter 5 of his first epistle:

Be watchful because your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, …knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by other believers throughout the world. 

He wouldn’t write this if it wasn’t a daily problem for us.

Believing in God, being a Christian - IT doesn’t prevent pain.

In fact, Jesus himself says several times, it will actually bring more pain because the World hates Him. Unfortunately, bad teachers and misunderstood passages have caused many to wonder why has God Forsaken and Abandoned them, not realizing where there true home is.

Some are taught to claim healing by faith. When that doesn’t work, they are told that they didn’t have enough faith. Before the modern-day frauds you see on TV, there was a popular cult called Christian Science. They believed going to the doctor was sinful.

Some have been told that it is unspiritual to grieve. So, they tried to smile and say, “Praise the Lord,”… but inside they are dying, and they are afraid to seek help from their brothers and sisters out of embarrassment.

In our text, Jesus prepares the disciples for the overwhelming sorrow that they would experience in the next few hours as they watched Him be arrested, mocked, scourged, and crucified. Their world would come crashing down around them. Jesus prepares them (and us) for suffering by teaching that the sorrows of this world, (and there will be sorrows!) will be turned to joy, as we understand the fullness of His plan.

Jesus says in v. 16, “A little while, and you will no longer see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me.” In one sense, Jesus is most likely talking about his death and resurrection. However, it really applies to us as well. John obviously writes this long after the resurrection and ascension to Christians undergoing horrible persecution, with an eye that we will one day be with the Lord, and the cares and troubles of this world will be long gone, when we are with Him for eternity.

Let’s revisit the meat of the section again, v. 20-22

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.

Although Christ conquered sin and death at the cross, we still live in a fallen world in bodies that are subject to disease and death.

We still have to fight against the flesh, which is prone to sin, with its painful consequences. When others sin against us, we suffer and being Christians does not insulate us from experiencing sorrow and pain.

Instead, Jesus promises to turn our sorrows into everlasting joy. He uses the illustration of a woman in labor, which my wife assures me, and I have witnessed on her face, is horrible pain. The mom to be is yelling in horrible anguish one minute, trying to grab and punish me for doing this to her because it’s all my fault,… and a few minutes later she was beaming with joy over the very thing that had caused her such anguish.

When this life is over, when, as our Reflective Hymn says, we get to heaven, all this pain will be behind us. The joy of being with the Lord will be so wonderful, we will not even remember the pain in getting there. That’s the good news. The bad news is, we have to get there, and getting there can be a pain.

God has given us a number of things to help with this. As we see in the next two weeks, the first is the Holy Spirit, a way for God to be present with His church in a greater way than Jesus could be, as Jesus was limited by his physical body. By His Holy Spirit, we are able to pray and seek the lord for the things that we are missing.

We have God’s word, which we should certainly be studying long before trials hit, but which has all kinds of wisdom to get us through trials of many kinds. And we have the Church, a body of brothers and sisters in Christ who are here to pray for us and encourage us in our time of need.

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