Rejoicing In The Midst Of Our Sorrows
Read 2 Corinthians Chapter 6
2Co 6:4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
Paul had an extremely difficult life, as we have discussed in other devotionals. Many of his trials are listed in this passage, but we are going to look at only one often overlooked idea. In verse 10 he mentions that he has been “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” This is a difficult concept for me to understand. How can a follower of Christ be both sorrowful and rejoicing? I’ve heard many lessons and sermons which attempt to explain how both can exist at the same time, yet I still have trouble with it.
On one hand, I can understand how a Christian can be sorrowful. I am often sorrowful; over the sinfulness and unbelief we see in the world today, over those I have mentored who have left God’s pathway and are following our enemy, over my own propensity to sin, and over the many physical disabilities I see in people every day. On the other hand, I can understand rejoicing; over those who continue to walk in God’s light, over those who refuse to give in to the enemy’s call to SSA temptation, and over the enormous amount of blessings I have received from the Lord over the course of my lifetime. There are many other examples we could list for both sorrow and rejoicing.
My problem is how to link the two. It is easy to get caught up in either one while putting aside the other. But Paul seems to indicate that he experienced both simultaneously. That is a trick which I have trouble mastering. As I search for the answers, here are some of the ideas which come to mind.
1. Jesus experienced both while on earth. As He entered Jerusalem for the last time before His crucifixion, He wept over the city because of their unbelief, yet rejoiced during His triumphant entry, as His followers shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David,” “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” and “Hosanna in the highest.”
2. We have every reason to rejoice continually, because we are forever God’s children, destined to live with Christ forever in eternity.
3. We have every reason to be sorrowful over the sin and unbelief which surrounds us each day.
4. Perhaps we simply supposed to find a balance between the two emotions. As we find ourselves overwhelmed by sorrow, maybe that’s our signal to fill our minds with those things over which we can rejoice, so that we will not succumb to despair. When we are full of rejoicing, maybe that’s when we should remember those we love who are headed down our enemy’s wide pathway.
Like Paul, we must attempt to find that we can rejoice over some things while being sorrowful over other things. As to our SSA issues, that might not be the case. We are much more likely to be sorrowful that to rejoice. But we must not allow our sorrow to prevent us from rejoicing. In fact, I’m sure our Savior does not want us to ever refrain from rejoicing over our good fortune. We should rejoice all the time; but that’s another goal I have yet to reach. I’m still working on it.
We can’t close without seeing that sorrow has a useful purpose in God’s plans.
2Co 7:11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.
Prayer: Lord, help us to understand and accomplish Your will in regard to sorrow and rejoicing. Both are part of Your plan for our lives. We are still learning. Fill us with Your Spirit and Your wisdom, that we will be able to accomplish Your will for our lives.