Sorrow That Turns to Joy 


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.  A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. (John 16:20-22)


Christ promised us that in this world we would find plenty to weep about and lament.  That certainly is true.  Yet, He also promises that the pain and sorrow we experience in this world is temporary, though we might experience it in our lifetimes as never ending. There is hope, just like a parturient woman who suffers the significant pains of childbirth but which come to an end at childbirth and are then replaced by the joy of holding her newborn baby. When we are going through periods of sorrow and suffering, we are given the hope that this too will pass and something better will emerge.  For Christians that may not happen in this lifetime or in this world, but only in the world to come. Deacon John Chryssavgis offers us these thoughts about current suffering:

“The silence of tears reflects our surrender to God and to new patterns of learning and living.  Through weeping, we learn by suffering and undergoing, not just by speculating and understanding.  The connection between tears and silence is important in this context. Tears are another way, a tangible way of addressing our pain and our panic. They are another, a passionate way of knowing our passions. They are the articulation of our grief, the wording of our desire.  The greater our love, the greater the corresponding sense of grief.


It is the depth of our love that determines the intensity of our weeping.  Through tears, we give up our infantile images of God and give in to the living image of God.  We confess our personal powerlessness and profess divine powerfulness.  Tears confirm our readiness to allow our life to fall apart in the dark night of the soul, and to assume our new life in the resurrection of the dead. It is the grace to accept and appreciate that our limited perspective of life should be forgone in the light of an unlimited perspective of full life.” (In the Heat of the Desert: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, p 49)


We may not get what we so hope for in this world, and we may not be spared disappointments or sorrows.  That doesn’t mean there is no God.  It only tells us that God is not limited by time as we are.  We think “always” or “never” but we really only mean in the course of our temporal life.  God who is beyond time and in whom we live and move and have our being is there whenever this world and its rewards and failures come to an end. That is why we don’t live for this world alone.