READ: Exodus 37-39, Psalm 30, Mark 2, Romans 2

Joy in the Mourning

We have the misguided concept that joy and sorrow are opposites. Joy may well come in the morning (Ps. 3:5), but it also comes in the mourning. When God takes the “u” out of mourning, it can lead to dancing (30:11). Unfortunately, there is often to much “you” (and me) in our mourning (self-pity) and self-pity is a joy quencher.

Temple Gairdner was a missionary in Cairo at the turn of the 20th century with the Church Missionary Society. His best friend was a man named Douglas Thornton.

Gairdner and Thornton – though polar opposites – were fast friends and indivisible colleagues. They trusted and depended on each other. When Thornton died  (in his early 30s) Gairdner was at his bedside. The presence of Jesus was so strong in that little room that Gairdner, despite his sorrow, could not help rejoicing. Immediately after Thornton went to be with Jesus, Gairdner slipped out of that room and realized: Joy and sorrow are not antithetical, they mingle together all our lives long.

William Blake said it well in his poem “Auguries of Innocence”:

Joy and woe are woven fine
A clothing for the soul divine
Under every grief and pine
Runs a thread with silken twine

It is right, it should be so
Man was made for joy and woe
And when this we rightly know
Thro’ the world we safely go.

Very few of us have unmitigated joy or sorrow. The normal Christian experience includes equal measure of both. We have the promise before us of an eternity without tears of sorrow, but our present reality must include suffering and pain. The wonder of Jesus is that He makes this fellowship sweet. When we endure trials and disappointment with our eyes on Him – He has the capacity to give us a measure of His joy – even in tragedy.

With my own eyes I have seen this. I have seen children laugh while their father languishes in prison. I have seen a mother praise when her child suddenly died. I have felt in my own heart an intimacy with Jesus – a joy inexpressible and full of glory – when I have turned my disappointments over to Him. There is joy in both the morning and the mourning.

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