When Sorrow Turns to Joy
|John 16 (NKJV™)|
|16||"A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father."|
|17||Then some of His disciples said among themselves, "What is this that He says to us, 'A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me'; and, 'because I go to the Father'?"|
|18||They said therefore, "What is this that He says, 'A little while'? We do not know what He is saying."|
|19||Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, "Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, 'A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me'?|
|20||"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.|
|21||"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.|
|22||"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.|
New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.
The flamboyant baseball-legend-turned-preacher Billy Sunday stated, "If you have no joy in your religion, there's a leak in your Christianity somewhere!" That's not to say that life is all laughs. Hardly! Jesus anticipated His followers' deep sorrow. He predicted it. But He also assured them that their experience of sadness would be eclipsed by a greater experience of lasting joy.
"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" John 20:31.
Believe:879 is an epic journey through the book of John led by Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary of Albuquerque. As we explore each of the 879 verses of this gospel, we'll grow in grace and in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. From His pre-incarnate existence, to His public ministry, through His death and His resurrection we'll traverse familiar territory and embark on new adventures of faith.
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Publications Referenced: Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne; Christianity Today, Garrison Keillor, 3 October 1986; It Is Well with My Soul, Horatio Spafford; Comforting the Bereaved, by Warren and David Wiersbe
Figures Referenced: Billy Sunday; Carol Burnett; David Martyn Lloyd Jones
Cross References: Job 1:21; Matthew 13:36; Mark 9:32; Mark 9:9-10; John 7:33; John 12:16; John 14:4-5; John 14:19; John 20:20; Acts 13:52; Romans 8:18-23; 2 Corinthians 10:5; 2 Peter 3:8; Revelation 21:4
Keywords: sorrow, joy, promise, confusion, "a little while"
Lord, it amazes us that when we speak to You just so simply and so plainly. And because we come to You on the merits of what Your son has done on the cross, because of Your love for us that instantly the gap that exist between heaven and earth is closed, and You hear us. And what's more staggering is that You work and act on behalf of us because we do pray.
When we pray, we are simply saying we need You, we depend on You. We can't live life without You. We agree with the Lord Jesus who said, "Without me, you can do nothing." The Lord as Paul said we can do all things to Christ who gives us the ability, the strength.
I pray especially for my brothers and sisters who are struggling this morning, some economically, some relationally, others emotionally. Some because of physical ailments, You know them all. You know the thoughts that were swirling in our heads last night when we put them down on the pillow and the first thought we had when we woke up today.
We thank of the words of David who said "Search me and know me because you do know us so well." Reveal Lord anything about us that needs to change. Lead us in the way everlasting.
Thank you Lord for the past, at the very start of our week, this day, the Lord's Day, where we can learn and get our bearings for the days ahead. In Jesus' name, Amen.
If life were a Winnie the Pooh episode, which character would you be? Would you be like Pooh bear himself, the main character? Friendly, love to eat honey. Would you be like Piglet? That was Pooh's best friend. The shy one, the timid one who would often say, "Oh, d-d-dear!" to a lot of things in life?
Some would be like Tigger, that bouncy, flexible, always having fun character? Or would you be like Rabbit? Now, he was small but he was pushy. He thought he was the cleverest one in the woods. Of course, so did Owl. Maybe you would be like Owl. Owl thought he was the cleverest because he could spell the word Tuesday. And he also was boring to a lot of the other characters in the story. Or could it be that you would be like the mope, pessimistic Eeyore, the donkey? You know Eeyore. He always had a cloud following him wherever he went. Life was always a downer.
In one episode when Pooh Bear said, "Good morning, Eeyore!" Eeyore said, "Good morning Pooh -- if it is a good morning, which I doubt. That is how he lived his life."
Did you know that there are people like all of those characters in Winnie the Pooh in the church? There are people who like to eat and have fun. There are people who are pushy and think they know it all. And there are people who are always on a downer, always negative, always sorrowful.
I read something that jumped out to me from Christianity Today Magazine, the author said "Some people think it is difficult to be a Christian and to laugh." I think it's the other way around. God writes a lot of comedy. It's just that he has so many bad actors.
Now in this paragraph that we're about to look at, Jesus predicts and experience of sorrow for his disciples as well as joy that will result from the sorrow. In fact, the joy will eclipse any of the sorrow that they had so that joy would mark their lives. There are a few things that are more attractive than a Christian who has authentic joy — not fake, not sappy, real joy, nothing more attractive. It is infectious.
On the other hand, conversely, those who are pessimistic and mope, etcetera, etcetera. Those are poor advertisements for the Gospel. There's nothing attractive in that. A non-believer then say, "I want to be like that." But genuine joy is hard to beat.
I am generally a joyful person for the most part, but I've had some pretty dark times in life, very low moments where the Lord has had to come in and really do a work of changing and transforming. An outlook I had. A behavior I had and transform that period of sorrow into joy. And that's really the theme of this. How sorrow is turned into, converted into joy.
Verse 16 we begin. "A little while, and you will not see Me. And again a little while, and you will see Me because I go to the Father." Then some of his disciples said among themselves, "What is this that he says to us, A little while, and you will not see Me. and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father?" They said therefore, "What is this that He says, "A little while"? We do not know what He is saying. Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, "Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, "A little while, and you will not see Me. and again a little while, and you will see Me"? Most assuredly I say to you, 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 the 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 it from you."
As I read that paragraph, there are few things that stand out to me in terms of contrast. Now, throughout the Gospel of John, it's something that I have noticed that there's a lot of contrast that Jesus brings up and John records. There's the contrast of death versus life. There's the contrast of light versus darkness. And here are some more contrasts.
There's a contrast between the disciples and the world. There's the contrast between something that is temporarily enjoyed or felt and something that is permanently enjoyed and felt. There's also the contrast of pregnancy versus a live birth. But the most significant contrast in this paragraph by far is the contrast between sorrow and joy. In fact, deep sorrow, the kind that would cause somebody to mourn and wail and lament versus the joy that is relational and that is permanent, and that can never go away.
When I read this -- when I read portions of scripture like this, I think of a man's experience, a man who wrote a song you're familiar with. He was a lawyer who wrote a Christian song so -- please understand, even lawyers can write Christian songs. And it was a very profound experience that he had and a very profound song that he wrote. His family died at sea. He went to from America to England after the event to see a surviving member, but the others had all died in the ocean. And when he was aboard the ship, going over the exact spot where his family was killed and the captain told them, "This was the spot." He wrote a song. "When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul."
Can you imagine the depth of sorrow he must have felt especially at that moment going over that spot? And to come up with those words as if to say, "Yes!" But there is a transformational joy that is now my experience to say it as well. It is well with my soul.
As we go through this paragraph again, this time a little more carefully. There are three stages I want you to see if how sorrow gets transformed into joy. And I will make three statements about that and these are the three stages.
First of all, confusion can challenge joy. Confusion can challenge joy. Now, Jesus makes a statement and we see immediately the disciples are confused and they say so. Look at the statement then look at their reaction.
Jesus says, "A little while, and you will not see Me. and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father." Okay now, for us, that's not difficult to understand, but that's because we have high insight. We're 2000 years removed. We look back, we know what happened, we know the predictions, how they we are fulfilled, we get it. But understand something, they didn't get it. They are confused. And they say as much.
Verse 17, "Some of the disciples said among themselves--" and this is probably how they said it to each other. "What is this that he says to us? "A little while, and you will not see Me. and again a little while, and you will see Me'. and, because I go to the Father?" Can you hear the tone that was probably in there voice? I do not get this, "Now you see Me, now you don't--" stuff. They said, therefore, "What is this that He says, "A little while?" We do not know what He is saying.
Boy, am I glad that that is written down, because this tells me that even disciples get confused from time to time. Even disciples go, "Huh? I don't get it. We do not know what he is saying."
How many times have you read the scriptures and said the same thing? "Huh? I don't get it. I don't know what it says. I don't understand what it means." Boy, that happens to me a lot. This is what I do every week. I read to the scripture, I'll pause and I'll ask and answer a series of questions. This is the job of the interpreter, of the Bible teacher. What does this mean? When did it happen? What is the context? What event was going on that precipitated this? What is the reaction? What's the language? What is the grammar? I ask all of these questions to determine the meaning. But what is paramount to understand? And what is to be underscored is simply this. These were the closest people to Jesus on earth and they're still confused. Whew! I am glad it says that. I honestly am.
You know, I think that we have been given a disservice by the art community, with all due respect when it comes to the apostles of Christ. I've had the privilege to look at a lot of museums and see a lot of art work from some of the greatest artists in the world about biblical scenes and many of them about the Apostles with Christ. And I noticed most of those paintings portrayed the apostles as older, sometimes balding, grey-headed, wise men wearing big halos like these guys had answers when the truth is most of the time, they didn't have a clue of what was happening. I take comfort in that personally. I'll give you just a sampling of a biblical portrait of the apostles.
In John chapter 12, you do not have to turn there. In John Chapter 12, "Jesus gets on a donkey, rides into Jerusalem." We remember the story. He's fulfilling Zechariah Chapter 9:9, the Pharisees understood it, the Scribes understood it, the Disciples didn't get it. We read in that very chapter that the disciples did not understand these things.
Here is another instance, John chapter 14, Jesus says to his disciples, "And where I am going, you know and the way you know." And Thomas pipes up and says, "We do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
Another example is Mark chapter nine. This is after the transfiguration where Jesus is transfigured with Moses and Elijah on that high mountain. And Jesus tells his disciples, "Now what you've seen, don't tell anybody until I have risen from the dead." And the Bible says, "They kept it to themselves, questioning what the "rising from the dead" meant."
Also in Mark chapter 9, "But they did not understand what he meant and they were afraid to ask him about it." And then when Jesus gave those stories, the parables of the Kingdom, a Sower and the Seed, the Weed and the Tares, the Weeds etcetera, we're told this. The disciples came to Jesus and said, "Now, explain to us the Parable of the Weeds in the Field? Like those were cool stories, we have no clue what that means. We don't get it."
Well here, they're confused again. These apostles, the closest ones to Jesus, they do not get it. And frankly, I am glad it is recorded that they were confused because I am from time to time. Now confusion challenges our joy. That is the larger point. You see, as long as you know where things are going in life and you understand there's a plan, you can see the plan, there's a confidence that is built into that.
But when things aren't going the way you think they should be going, when your expectations have not been met, confusion sets in and that will mitigate against your joy. Confusion challenges our joy.
Usually, joy is the result of something. Now I know a lot of people like to make a big deal between the difference of happiness and joy. But I think for our purposes, we can lump it all together. People generally get happy or joyful because something happens to them. "I got a raise! I am really happy." Or "I got engaged! I am really happy." Or "I got disengaged! I am really happy." Whatever the case might be. That's because life is flowing according to expectation. If it fits, you are happy. If it doesn't fit, if it does not work, you're not.
Now imagine what the disciples were thinking. Okay, He says He loves us, but He says He's leaving. I am confused. Or He keeps talking about His kingdom, His kingdom, His kingdom, but He's going to die on the cross? How does that work? Can you relate to any of that? How many times have you said, "Okay, the Bible says God loves me, but with my circumstances, it just doesn't look that way? I know Jesus talks about abundant life but with what I am going through, I am not experiencing it. I am confused."
I was up going around the internet looking at different blogs this week, ran across a few psychological blogs and dealing with this whole issue of confusion and state of mind. And there are all these psych students kind of weighing in. And one person decided to be very honest in this forum and talked about his confusion. And then he said, "I am fuzzy. That's how my mind is much of the time. There are distracting thoughts that are constantly pulling me all over the place which leaves me feeling frustrated and confused." But then he said, "There are times of clarity where my mind is sharp and clear and I understand where I am going." And he says, "I am happy. I am not happy when I am confused, I am happy when I'm clear in my thoughts." And many students weighed in on what that meant and no real conclusion to it all.
But that sort of serves the point here. There's a confusion. And when that confusion comes, the joy is very hard to get a grip on. So, what did the disciples do about it? Look at verse 17. They said among themselves, "Stop. Huh!" What did they do with their confusion? They talked their confusion out loud. They weren't afraid to say to each other, "Hey, Peter, John, James, I don't get it. Do you understand what he said because I do not see it?" They were not too proud to ask the question and admit their confusion.
Now I have met some people who are too proud to ask questions, thus, they never get answers. I've met people who are too busy to discuss spiritual matter so they never grow to maturity. There's an old Chinese proverb that says, "He who ask a question is a fool for five minutes. But he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever."
These disciples did not get it, they're confused and they talked their confusion out loud to one another. That's healthy. That's good. Confusion can challenge joy. Here's the second. Promises can anchor joy. Now I want you to watch this. To me it is quite stunning actually. Verse 19, Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him and He said to them, "Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, 'A little while, and you will not see Me. and again, a little while, and you will see Me." Most assuredly -- anytime you read that or if you have the Old King Jimmy verily, verily -- it's a profound statement of importance. What I'm about to say boys, is important. Now he makes a promise. "Most assuredly I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy."
What is stunning to me is that Jesus does not explain in detail what he had just said that they don't understand. He didn't say, "Okay. Here's what I meant by "A little while and a little while."
"So here's the deal. Here's the eschatē." He didn't do that. No real explanation. Instead, he gives them a promise. In fact, the first part of the promise is not very good. The second part of the promise is great but the first part is, Okay. I know you are sorrowful now and you are confused. It is going to get a lot worse. You're going to get so sorrowful that you're going to want to weep and lament while the world rejoices. But, here's the second part. "Your sorrow will be transformed, changed, converted, turned into joy."
I've discovered something throughout the few years I've been alive. Promises are more important than explanations. We Americans want everything explained to us. We're not happy until it is explained. We want an explanation. "Pastor, explain to me why God would allow this." "Okay. Well, duh, duh--" "That is not good enough. I want a real explanation."
One of the best books I ever read by Warren Wiersbe and his son David about how to minister the people with broken hearts, bereaved hearts, they've lost children or parents or spouses cautions the minister in this book not to try to offer long explanations of why God would allow this to happen. "At least do not do that." he says at first. You can do it later on when they're ready for it. But at first, in a crisis, give them a promise. Don't give them an explanation.
Wiersbe writes, "Even if the minister can give a rational explanation for this tragedy, explanations do not heal a broken heart. People live on promises, not on explanations. We don't need reasons, rather we need resources." So here's Jesus and He gives them a promise of future joy. It's bad now boys, it is going to get worse but its going to get really good after that. Now He gives them a promise of future joy and it all hinges on a little phrase. And what is that little phrase that is repeated eight times in this one paragraph? It is the phrase "A little while." He keeps using that and they keep using that and then Jesus used it eight times, the phrase "A little while." You're going to be happy in a little while. It is going to get really bad but in a little while it is going to get really good. So what does that mean? When is a little while going to happen?
Well, I'm glad you asked. Indulge me. Let me explain that there are three options. You can pick which ones you think suit you the best or suit the text and the context the best. I'll tell you what I think.
Number one that this was going to be fulfilled immediately Jesus in a few hours would be arrested in the garden of Gethsemane. They would become sorrowful. The next day Jesus would die on the cross. They would be extremely, lamentably sorrowful. But three days later, He's going to rise from the dead. And when they see Him alive from the dead, they're going from sorrow to joy in an instant. It could mean that it's going to be fulfilled rather immediately.
That is exactly what happened. When Jesus appeared to them in the upper room, the Bible says in John 20, "As He spoke, He held out his hands for them to see and He showed them aside. They were filled with joy when they saw their Lord." So, it did happen immediately.
Number two, here's another option. Many believed that Jesus wasn't meaning that this would be fulfilled immediately but rather imminently, soon but not immediately, eventually but not immediately. And this is how it's interpreted.
Jesus would die, rise from the dead. He'd be with them on earth for 40 more days, the Bible tells us. Then he would leave, right? He descended into heaven. They were standing on the Mount of Olives watching Him go -- all the way up in to heaven and they would not see Him anymore in the flesh after that.
But, though they were bummed out that Jesus left them, their joy would be rekindled when as Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would be sent to them, to be in them and upon them. And as they would minister around the world and the power of the Holy Spirit, that would bring them joy which also happened.
In Acts 13, "The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit." So could it be that Jesus meant it would be fulfilled immediately? Could it be that He meant it would be fulfilled imminently? Here's another possibility, that this will be fulfilled ultimately or eventually, futuristically or if you want another term "Eschatologically".
Not immediately, not imminently, but eventually. Well, that also is true. In the end, when all believers are gathered and we see the Lord, there will be a sense of joy that is amazing, we'll be absent from the body, we'll be present with the Lord. So if that is the case, then "A little while" means our lifetime. And in fact, even the entire church age. I know what you're thinking. "That didn't sound like a little while to me. That sounds like a long hall, not a little while."
However, consider the kind of joy Jesus says we're going to have would be permanent. Look at Verse 22, at the very end. "Your heart will rejoice." Now, watch. "Your joy, no one will take from you." Now, I would venture to say that that promise couldn't be fulfilled with the first two options but it could be with the third. I mean Jesus says has risen from dead, and He's alive right now. But I still know many Christians who know that He's alive and live very sad in sullen lives. Or if it means the Holy Spirit, I know many believers. they all have the Holy Spirit living within them. Some are experiencing the power from time to time of the Holy Spirit but still lack a sense of joy. But the third is definitely true. When you're in heaven with the Lord and He wipes away every tear, and there is no more sorrow, you will have a joy that will be permanent and everlasting and no one can take it from you.
Also consider this, the term that little phrase, that recurrent eight time phrase, "A little while", that's a relative term. Would you agree? And let me explain. I discovered that that phrase appears four different times in the New Testament Gospels. Jesus said the phrase four times. He may have said it more, but it's recorded four times that He used the phrase "A little while". Now, listen to this, in one instance, in the couple of chapters before John 14, Jesus uses that phrase. Let me read it to you.
John 14:19, "A little while and the world will see Me no more." Now that meant that night. He was on his way to be arrested. He would be crucified. "A little while" meant like a day. But in John Chapter 7 which happened a year before this event, Jesus says this, "I shall be with you a little while longer and then I will go to Him who sent me." So do you see, in one instance, A little while means one day. And another instance, "A little while" means a year?
Now, we start to get the perspective of Jesus. Indeed the perspective of God that He sees time differently than we do because I would say, "Yeah, in a little while." I would think like five minutes. That's a little while. A year, that's not a little while especially if you're like two years old. That's half a lifetime. But we understand that to God, time is completely different because He's outside the time-space continuum, he's an eternity.
In fact, what did Peter say? 1Peter 3:8, "A thousand years with the Lord is like one day." And one day is like a thousand years. You know, we get all jazzed. "There's a new iPod out man, this is like so cool." And God must go, yawn. I mean everything is like so new and so cool and so innovative. And the latest is this and you know, we live in this period of history but if you were to just begin to see it from God's perspective -- and this might help. Somebody tried to take world history and condensed it into a 50-year span of time, 50 years all of history. This is his perspective.
Five months ago, the printing press was invented. 20 days ago, Ben Franklin discovered electricity, 19 days ago, the telephone arrived on the scene, 18 days ago, two high school dropouts invented the airplane. 10 days ago, the radio was first invented, five days ago, the TV was invented, and five minutes ago, the first jet airplane took off.
To God, in eternity, a millennium is a little while. I heard about a man who prayed something like this, "God, it says here in your book that a thousand years is like one day to You. And I also read here in your book that you own a cattle on a thousand hills, so like a billion dollars is like one dollar to you. So God, could I just have a dime?" And the Lord spoke to Him out of heaven, "Yes, my son. Wait just a minute."
Perspective changes things. From eternity's perspective, a lifetime is a little while. Now, here's the principle. We can endure the present trial when we know that it's going to end. And that's the comfort Jesus gives to His disciples. You guys are sorrowful, you're about to enter a dark night of your soul. It's not always going to stay this way. You're going to be lifted from sorrow, to joy in a little while.
Let's look at the third and then we'll close. Not only does confusion challenge joy, not only do promises anchor joy, but sorrow can lead to joy. I know we want to avoid sorrow, but it can lead to joy. Verse 21, "A woman, when she is in labor has sorrow because her hour has come, but as soon as she has given birth tot the child, she 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.
That's a little illustration, right? That's a little parable of child birth. And the parable is based on the principle. And the principle is found in Verse 20. It says, "Your sorrow will be turned into joy." And then Jesus says, "It's like this. And everybody would be able to relate to it." It's like a woman having a baby. Now, the point is simple in the parable. Having a baby really hurts a lot. There's pain and there's anguish, and there's sorrow. And men kind of don't get that. So Carol Burnett tried to help us. She said, "Men, if you wanted to try to relate, it's like taking your bottom lip and trying to pull it back on and stretch it over your head and you get an idea of what pregnancy and having a baby is like." I tried that once. It wasn't good.
It hurts a lot. I don't know if you've gone through the Lamaze classes like I have. When we were having Nathan, that was the big buzz, everybody went through that. The idea – Lisa once told me, this is the perception I had is that, you know, it's just so natural and it's holistic and it's so good. You can just teach her to breath right. It's just going to be wonderful. It didn't work. With all due respect if you've into Lamaze, for us, huh-huh honey. And I'm the cheerleader and then I get bopped in the head by my wife in the middle of it, shut up! This really hurts!
I read this verse differently now. Here's the point. I always want to get back to the point. The point is this. despondency will be overshadowed by ecstasy just like maternity gets overshadowed by delivery. That baby is born and as that baby takes form and grows, all of that pain, all of that suffering, all of that anguish, gets pushed back. She doesn't even remember it. What she sees in front of her is the pay off.
Now, does this refer to the resurrection, does this refer to the coming Holy Spirit, does this refer referred to the Second Advent, because all three are true, right? When Jesus rose from the dead, they were reunited. When the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Christ, He's called came upon them, they were further united. And one day in glory, will be ultimately united.
Now, I find a verse that I think ties a bow in this better than any verse and scriptures, that's of Romans Chapter 8. Let me read it to you, "All of creation has been groaning in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And even we, Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us also grown. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full right as children including the new bodies He's promised us." And so, whatever you're in right now, the Lord wants to lift up your eyes and say, "In a little while, things will be different."
Here's a question as we close, "What are you doing when you're sorrowful?" I mean really just think about what you do typically when bad news gets delivered to you? Because I have to tell you, the world copes with sorrow in a number of ways. Typically, they drink it through or they take drugs to get them selves through or they try to entertain their way through it just soak in entertainment. You know I was flabbergast when I read this week that 35% of Americans report their method for combating depression is to watch television. That's like saying, "I want to get my disease cured by getting re-infected.
So what do you do? What should you do when you're sorrowful? I'll give you three bullet points to walk home with. Number one, replace your thoughts with His truth. And if ever thoughts go through your mind and try to derail you in the track. You know what that's like. Some of those voices are strong. The disciples' voice their thoughts, Jesus try to replace with His truth. He's a promise. There are 7487 promises in the Bible that God may demand, enough to get you through a lifetime.
Dr. D Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a medical doctor who went in to the ministry and he writes about depression. This is what he says, "We must talk to ourselves instead of allowing ourselves to talk to us. Most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, address yourself, preach to yourself, and question yourself." He was basing that on taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and replacing your thoughts with God's truth.
So that's number one, replace your thoughts with God's truth. Number two, replace yourself with your God. When we are sorrowing, we are self-absorbed. All of the energy we expend during a time of sorrow is typically focused inward. Why am I feeling this way? How do I get out of this? We are self-absorbed and self-consumed. And the cure is to turn from inward to outward, replace yourself with your God. What did Job do when he heard his family was all killed, all of his children, and his property? It says, he fell down and he worshipped. He said, "Naked I've come in to this world, naked I'm going to leave. Blessed be the name of the Lord." He replaced himself with his God.
Third and finally, replace your past with His future. Don't live in the past. "Yeah, but I feel --", it's over. You can't fix it. Let it go. Don't live in the past. Paul said, "Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead." What lies ahead? And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death nor sorrow nor crying. The former things had passed away. "When's that going to happen?" A little while.
In the scope of eternity, a little while. It might happen this week. And I don't mean by that, you might die and go to heaven this week. I mean that God may deliver you this week from just that thinking, that problem into a whole new arena. But either way, a little while.
The worst thing I can think of in life from my perspective, the worst possible experience is to grow old as a non-believer. As non-believer, as you grow older, just this is what happens, you will go from sorrow to sorrow to sorrow, to ultimate and eternal sorrow. As a believer, whatever sorrow will be turned into joy. And you can even have it now as you frame it in the right perspective. That's enough to make any Eeyore get turned into a Tigger.Heavenly Father, we know what lies ahead. We know what promise you have made, many of which we have already experienced. And therefore, we have a solid and confident joy. It's not fake. It's authentic. Lord, I pray that You would save us from a false sappy kind of put on joy. I just fall so flat, but to have a transparent and authentic, and that's infectious. That's attractive. That's an advertisement for the Gospel. But thank you for these promises and help us Lord to replace our thoughts with your truth. Our self with You, our past with the future You have promised for us in Jesus name, Amen.