Phil Cox

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Sorrow and Joy

2nd March 2013

Last week, a 48-year-old member of our church was pronounced terminally ill. His family are, of course, devastated. There have been many tears, and much bewilderment. Why would the God who died to pay for his sins not also intervene to save his life?

In the same week, a baby was born to another church member. Her family are, of course, thrilled. There have been many tears of joy and also a sense of wonder. Every new human is a miracle and, although we know much more than we did about how God creates babies, we’ll never fully understand. Whatever we learn about genetics and DNA, I don’t think we’ll ever know how God puts an immortal soul into a new person.

There’s always sorrow, and there’s always joy.

For the grieving family, the sorrow seems to have almost eclipsed the joy. For the celebrating family, the joy seems to have eclipsed the sorrow. And we must respect both. We must “Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn" (Romans 12: 15.) But those who mourn have joy they can’t see, and those who rejoice have sorrow that they’ve temporarily forgotten.

All of us who know Jesus Christ as Lord know that when we die, we go to a better place. And we know that one day we’ll be reunited with each other, as we stand together before our Lord. We know our sins are forgiven and we’ll be together for ever. And (I hope) we know the love of His church, the joy of seeing others coming to faith, being healed and restored. There’s always joy.

And all of us who know Jesus as Lord also know of people, whom we love, who don’t know Jesus as Lord and who are doomed to eternity without God, unless they turn from their sins and put their faith in His redeeming blood. We know and love people who are sick, marriages that are failing, people losing their jobs, people falling into sin. There’s always sorrow.

I hope the grieving family in my church can share something of the joy of the rejoicing family, although that’s hard right now. And I hope the rejoicing family spare a thought, and offer up a prayer for the grieving family. I’m sure they do.

And I hope you and I are able to give up on the dream that they’ll be a time this side of heaven when our lives will be all joy and no sorrow. Such a time will never come and we can waste our lives waiting and hoping for it. But after we pass through death into eternity, there will be joy indeed:

Revelation 21:1-4
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 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."