Sorrow and Joy
“Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:4, 5. An ancient heading for Psalm 30 in my Bible states: “A song at the dedication of the house of David.” Whether this heading is accurate or not, David’s life certainly illustrates the truths stated in the 12 verses of this Psalm. This article will point out some contrasts between sorrow and joy, blessings we receive from sorrow, and the quality of increasing joy for those who belong to God.
There are contrasts in Verse 5 quoted above. God’s anger is momentary, His favor may last a lifetime. In fact, David’s lifetime as one described by the apostle Paul as “a man after my (God’s, cw) own heart” is an illustration of this principle. The blessings he enjoyed, and the blessings his life brought to all who follow God are continuing to bring joy! His closing thoughts in this Psalm are about that joy – “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” Psalm 30:11, 12
The episodes of God’s anger over the recorded sins of David, while plainly revealed, are events that come and go, but the joys given to the reader of the Psalms will remain as long as time continues.
Night and morning stand in contrast in these verses. Weeping endures for a night, joy comes in the morning. Our seasons of sorrow take many forms. Sorrow may come in the night of broken health. It may come in the episodes of bereavement as we mourn those we love. It may come as we are conscious of our sins. Jesus spoke especially of this sorrow: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” The comfort of forgiveness through Jesus is a transforming emotion which changes us into those who are forgiving others.
The blessings we receive through the sorrows we experience are well illustrated in God’s word. Would the loving Father have ever expressed such love for His prodigal son, had He not experienced the sorrow? The son had been “dead and is alive again” is best appreciated when we know the beginning of the story! In John 16, Jesus uses the pain and anguish of childbirth to illustrate the disciples’ sorrow at His trial and crucifixion. He then turns to the joy that the resurrection will bring to their lives when they are with the risen Lord. They became different men—those who ran away in fear became so bold in proclaiming Jesus that they were willing to lay down their lives for Him.
The blessings we gain from sorrow receive special attention from Solomon in Ecclesiastes 7:1-4. The writer states four important principles: 1) The day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. How can this be? The person who belongs to God has won the victory when faithful service culminates in death. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” 2) The living “take it to heart” when they visit the house of mourning. They come to the awesome realization that death is the end of every opportunity to turn to God and be saved. 3) “By a sad countenance the heart is made better” is the third principle. No experience is likely to produce more serious, soul-searching thought than to suffer the loss of someone we love. 4) “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning.” Solomon notes the wisdom of learning through our sorrows. In his poem “Along the Road”, Robert Browning Hamilton notes the lessons he learned from sorrow:
“I walked a mile with pleasure;
She chattered all the way,
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with sorrow
And ne’er a word said she;
But oh, the things I learned from her
When sorrow walked with me!”
“Joy comes in the morning.” “His favor is for life.” The reader of Psalm 30 will notice the brevity of God’s anger: “but for a moment”, “weeping...for a night”, and the joy promised by God. Joy! Unending joy awaits the faithful and gives us the “happy anticipation” we commonly call “hope.”
Consider the following quotations and the joy we experience as we think of the hope we have in Christ:
Matthew 25:23 – “Enter into the joy of your Lord”
Luke 6:23 – “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy”
John 15:11 – “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full”
John 16:24 – “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”
Acts 2:28 – “You will make me full of joy in your presence”
Acts 20:24 – “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy.”
Romans 15:13 – “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
1 John 1:4 – “And these things we write to you that your joy may be full”
Mrs. R. A. Evilsizer, in her song “In the Morning of Joy” has written:
“When the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall arise,
And the splendors immortal shall envelope the skies,
When the angel of death shall no longer destroy,
And the dead shall awaken in the morning of joy.
In the morning of joy, in the morning of joy,
We’ll be gathered in glory in the morning of joy