Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Sorrow turned to Joy

John 16:20 NKJV — “Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.

Joy has to do with gladness or cheerfulness. It is usually an emotion associated with a feeling of well-being. Joy is sometimes compared to happiness or blessing. It is difficult for me to distinguish between joy and happiness but normally I see joy as being an inward attitude while I see happiness or blessing to be associated with outward circumstances. In any case we want to be happy and we want to be filled with joy. That is particularly true during these days of pandemic and protests.

Sorrow is usually defined as pain or affliction or grief. Death brings sorrow. The Psalmist says in Psalm 116:3, “The pains of death surrounded me, And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow.” Sorrow is associated with the pangs of birth in John 16. But the sorrow is turned to joy when a healthy baby is delivered. The Lord’s death was going to bring the disciples sorrow, but his resurrection would bring them joy or gladness. When the Lord appeared to the disciples in the upper room after His resurrection we read, “When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord (John 20:20).”

We could Use some Joy
As many of you know, I have been incapacitated by a knee injury. I am limited as to what I can do. But because of the injury, there are some things that give me joy that I took for granted before. The first morning cup of coffee with toast and peanut butter topped with colby/monterey jack cheese is now a real source of joy or happiness. Being able to hold zoom meetings with some of my friends and their congregations is a real joy. Cards and telephone calls make my day. But the real joy is time spent in studying the Bible and meditating on the blessings that I have received from the Lord. I am so glad that many years ago I settled the issue of where I would be when I die. I am really not sure where I will be buried if I die before the return of the Lord, but I know where the real me will be. Christ died for my sins and I believe God when He tells me that. I will be in heaven not because I deserve to be there but because the Lord wants me there, and He died to make it possible. I was convinced of my need to be saved (there was sorrow), but I got real joy when I realized that God had made a promise to me that I could depend on. My sorrow was turned to joy.

What robs us of Joy?
Turn on the national news and you will presently be robbed of joy. God wants HIs people to be a separated people so He can act as their Father. He becomes our spiritual father the moment we are saved but sometimes we allow the influence of the world to interfere with the Lord’s desire to “father” us. A father wants to protect, and provide for His children. But He also wants to nurture us. He cannot do that if we are not a separated people. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:17-19, “Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters.” Earlier in the passage he talks about marriage yokes, business yokes, social yokes and religious yokes. We all know how the Israelites failed with regard to the marriage yokes and religious yokes. But they also failed when they did business with Kings that were not Godly. And many people today seem to think that they can change the world through the political system and they have become entangled in it. This is something that could easily become a pitfall for me. But these yokes with unbelievers are joy robbers, and they keep the Lord from caring for us the way He wants to care for us. Whenever our associations with the world system cause us to make decisions that we would not make if we were prayerfully making decisions alone in the fear of God, we are on quicksand.

True Joy
The Psalmist says in Psalm 16:11, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” That is the joy I want, and it is the joy that is only available to those who separate themselves from the world system. First, we need the joy that comes with salvation, but we also need the joy that comes when we are truly in the presence of the Lord. That is why the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord after His resurrection. They were shut-in from the world behind closed doors, but the Lord appeared in their midst. To have that experience is something that I want. I hope you do as well.

Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of June 21, 2020

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