“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, ESV).
Jesus spoke these words to his disciples about his death and resurrection. But the truth has greater significance than that historical event.
He said this when there were only hours left for his arrest leading to death on the cross. His enemies will rejoice that they have got rid of the threat that he was to their interests. At the same time, the followers will go through deep sorrow and loss. They will grieve since they lost their leader who died as a criminal. Dark clouds of loss, shame and sorrow will shadow over them. But Jesus said that the joy of the enemies and the sorrow of his friends will be both short-lived.
On the day of resurrection, the enemies will be terrified when they realize that their efforts to get rid of him forever was futile. At the same time, the disciples will be overwhelmed with joy when they meet their risen saviour who has overcome the power of death. Their sorrow lasted only four days—from his arrest that led to his execution and the dawn of his glorious resurrection.
Though this is related historically to the resurrection, it is the pattern that Christian life follows. As the psalmist says, sorrow is a night-lodger who will have to leave in the morning and not to come back again. However, joy comes in the morning to occupy the room that sorrow has vacated to live there for ever. In the words of the poet inspired by the Holy Spirit:
“Sing to the LORD, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favour lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psa 30:4—5, NLT).
That is one aspect of the beauty of walk with Christ. There may be dark spots and spells of sorrow. Like the morning dew on the leaves, they will melt away when the sun shines. All that we need to pray at nights of sorrow is for the favour of the Father God to shine upon us as he has promised.
“Turn us again to yourself, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved” (Psa 80:19, NLT).
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