Where Joy and Sorrow Meet

Where Joy and Sorrow Meet



Tuesday, January 16 2018 

 

Awhile back, leisurely scrolling through Instagram as I love to do, I read these words from John Piper and was left unsettled and yet challenged:  

 

"Sorrow is feeding on the gloom of the world, 

while joy is feeding on the glory of God. 

Christian joy... [is] so strong, 

that it is simultaneous with sorrow -  

not sequential, but simultaneous -  

and even penetrates sorrow 

and keeps it from destroying us." 

 

After a short google search, I discovered where these powerful words come from: they come from a Campus Outreach New Years Conference that Piper gave back in 2015. Here are some excerpts from that talk:  

 

"There is an all-permeating passion that belongs in the saved human soul... that will not be crushed by the moral chaos of these days, or by the suffering that Christians must endure. There is a passion that rises in the saved soul living in a not-yet saved world.  

 

One of the most concise expressions of that passion is found in 2 Corinthians 6:8-10, [which among other statements reads]: "We are treated... as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing..." 

 

Does the emphasis fall on sorrowful? Or on rejoicing?... The second part stands in spite of the first part... We are emphasizing the strength or the value or the surprising and wonderful existence of what stands in spite of some obstacle... We are sorrowful about the sin and misery of the world and our own pain, but, in spite of that, our joy is unshaken and constant... 

 

So when Paul says that Christians are “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing,” sorrow is the backdrop and joy is the rugged, durable, amazing constant. The passion that rises in the saved soul, living in a not-yet saved world, is sorrowful yet always rejoicing. Christian joy is indestructible. It’s joy that is totally awake to the sin and misery around it. It is not naïve. It knows about cancer and birth defects and profound mental disabilities and divorce and child abuse — like abortion — and terrorism and earthquakes and tsunamis and racial hostilities and white collar crime and sex-trafficking, and poverty and hunger and a thousand daily frustrations that make life hard.  

 

The gospel brings life. And living things see and feel reality for what it is. The saved soul sees more sorrow than the dead soul. And therefore Christians know more sorrow than when they were spiritually dead. They weep with those who weep (Romans 12.15); and they know more reasons to weep as believers than they did as unbelievers... 

 

You will be like Jesus, “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3)... You see reasons for sorrow now that only the eyes of Jesus see. 

 

But sorrow is not the main passion of your soul. It is not the deepest passion. It is not the most durable. It is not the one that will last longest. It is not the one that carries you through tragedy and death. Sorrow is soil, but the plant is joy. Sorrow is the wind, but the wing of flight is joy... Sorrow is the fire but joy is refined gold... 

 

How can Christian joy be so powerful that no loss, no tragedy, no suffering, no threat, no Beast can destroy it? How can it be so strong, that it is simultaneous with sorrow — not sequential, but simultaneous—and even penetrates sorrow and keeps it from destroying us emotionally? The answer is that sorrow is feeding on the gloom of the world, while joy is feeding on the glory of God. And the gloom of the world is not ultimate; the glory of God is ultimate. And therefore glory-fed joy is stronger than a gloom-fed sorrow... 

 

Sorrow is feeding on fading gloom. And joy is feeding on indestructible glory. And in that feeding, it is being glorified. It is being turned into the very joy of the all-glorious Jesus himself... 

 

So the supreme, all-pervading, all-unifying passion of the Christian soul is the glory of Christ creating invincible joy. Through all the grieving, all the fiery trials, all the suffering, the glory of Christ is the never-failing, undimmed treasure of all treasures and pleasure of all pleasures. “Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8)." 

 

So, let's read Piper's quote again: 

 

"Sorrow is feeding on the gloom of the world, 

while joy is feeding on the glory of God. 

Christian joy... [is] so strong, 

that it is simultaneous with sorrow -  

not sequential, but simultaneous -  

and even penetrates sorrow 

and keeps it from destroying us." 

 

Yes! It's so true!  
 

Both sorrow and joy need to feed on something to keep them alive. And so, as Piper says, sorrow feeds on the world's gloom and darkness, its misery and melancholy; whereas joy feeds on the glory, the greatness and the majesty of God. 
 

Piper suggests that, as Christians, we need to learn both to sorrow and to rejoice. But not sequentially: that is one after the other, first sorrow and then joy. No - we need to learn to do both simultaneously: that is, to sorrow and to rejoice at the same time. 

 

Because yes, this world is filled with affliction and despair, and we must and we do grieve because of this reality. But!... But Jesus has overcome the world's darkness and misery, and is its true light and its glorious hope! And so, even though we will have trouble and tribulation in this world, we can take heart, we can take courage, and in Him we can have peace - because He has conquered the world. (John 16:33) 
 

As for me, I'm learning, oh-so-slowly, to allow sorrow and joy to co-exist in my inner being - not one after the other, but both at the same time. Always grieving, and yet always rejoicing. Enduring the fire of gloom-fed sorrow, because glory-fed joy is a refined gold that is ever so much stronger and deeper and everlasting.  

 

"Why are you cast down, O my soul, 
 and why are you in turmoil within me? 
Hope in God;  

for I shall again praise him, 
    my salvation and my God." 

(Psalm 42:11) 

 

Where Joy and Sorrow Meet: a song from the vocal group Avalon that gave this week's reflection its title.  Give it a listen, here at this link: http://www.reflectionsforliving.com/video/313/where-joy-and-sorrow-meet-avalon/ 



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