Going From Sorrow to Joy

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Our world is filled with sorrow and sadness. Dark times can descend upon us gradually, or envelop us suddenly and without warning. My heart goes out to those who recently lost loved ones in California fires. Certainly, their pain is nigh unbearable. Near my hometown, a mother of two young children was killed in a car accident, leaving the children and other family with grievous emotional pain.  In this world, troublesome times overtake everyone. My father-in-law, like many others, could no longer live with life’s circumstances and committed suicide. What do we do when we are trying to survive seemingly unending sorrows and sadness?

Those who believe in God for his protection are not exempt. Tragic times can cause us to feel God has failed us and we are tempted to “write him off”.

Those who believe in God for his protection are not exempt. Tragic times can cause us to feel God has failed us and we are tempted to “write him off”. For various reasons, often unknown to us, God allows believers to suffer deep sorrow and sadness. However, we must not give up trusting God’s love and goodness, for though he may not guarantee us freedom from the sorrows of the world, he does promise that times of gladness and joy are coming. Our faith in God during tragedy must learn to focus on the hope he gives us. His words of hope give us the ability to hang on until expected days of joy return.

For a period of time our church sang verses from the Bible that were set to music. Thinking about this subject, I remembered one of those songs. The verse reads, “So the ransomed (redeemed) of the Lord will return and come with joyful shouting to Zion, and everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (Isaiah 51:11, NASB).   Verse one of the chapter tells us to whom these words are addressed, “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek the Lord”. They are written to God’s suffering people.

Who are the ransomed, or redeemed, to whom God gives hope? These are people who previously recognized their need for God to rescue them because they saw that their lives were out of control, or that they were not satisfied with their present life, or that a fear or situation could not be overcome in their own power. They prayed to God for help and God tells of a savior that he sends to rescue them, one who would give them the new life they wanted and needed. He is called God’s servant because at God’s bidding, he ransoms hurting people, providing a way for them to be acceptable to God, so that by faith in him, they and God would become one in heart and mind. Now, by faith, they are God’s beloved children, and are eligible to receive all the good that God has in store for them, both now and forevermore.

Isaiah, in the context of his writings, warns God’s people that shortly they would be going through very dark times, experiencing the destruction of their nation and the loss of their homes and families. In the midst of these depressing times, God comforts them with something to look forward to. If you are going through sorrow and sadness, as a starter, I recommend to you the reading of chapters 50-55 of Isaiah. God’s prophet writes these words to all who look to God for help.

How do I go from sorrow and sadness to gladness and joy?

How do I go from sorrow and sadness to gladness and joy? Trust what God says in these chapters. Pray and rely on God’s words to bring comfort and strength to you so that you can keep going. I do not know how God will strengthen you when you read his words; that is for you to discover in thoughtful reading. I do know that God’s servant, whose story is told in Isaiah 52 and 53, went through the darkest and worst of days, but knowing the joy set before him , he endured those days and was rewarded with the days of gladness and joy God promised (Hebrews 12:2). Perhaps God’s words of comfort will cause gladness and joy to well up within you, relieve your fears, and give peace and rest to your troubled soul.

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Jay Ashbaucher
Jay Ashbaucher is a native of Northwest Ohio and is currently a retired pastor and published author. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and has been a pastor and teacher in Montana for over 44 years. Jay taught grief classes in a hospital setting, and worked for twenty years as a fifth-step counselor and lecturer in an alcoholic-drug treatment center getting to know the hearts of people struggling to get well. While pastoring in Montana, he had enjoyed racquetball, hunting, fishing, and traveling the Big Sky State. Now living in Southeast Michigan, Jay enjoys his family, reading, hiking, golf, time with friends, and time with his fun-to-be-with wife. They have two happily married children and seven grandchildren.