Joy and Sorrow - Galatians 5

| | Galatians 5:22

- we're studying the fruit of the spirit - those inner
  character qualities that God wants to be developing in each
  one of us
- the last couple of weeks we've been studying the second
  component of the spirit's fruit - the component of joy

- read Gal. 5:22

- let me just remind you of the method we've used to divide
  all the biblical material on this subject
- (flash boxes transparency)

- first, we defined joy:

    "the deep down sense of well being that abides in the
     heart of the person who knows all is well between
     himself and his Lord"

    "the feeling of happiness that is based on spiritual
     realities"

- the major point of the definitions is that biblical joy is
  not based on the material conditions around me
    - in fact, God instituted a feast to help remind His
      people of that
    - INPUT - Name of the feast (Feast of tabernacles)
             

- we also said the Bible identifies some wrong sources of joy
  that we called false substitutes, wax fruit
     - things like the world's good times, joy derived from
       wrong motives

- those sources look like they produce joy, but they don't -
    at least in the biblical sense - and we've been asking
    ourselves to consider whether we've been using those as
    primary or maybe even exclusive sources, and therefore
    putting ourselves in the position where we couldn't be
    developing the spiritual fruit of joy

- we also said the Bible identifies some worldly weeds,
  things that will choke out a believer's joy,
    - things like self-pity, unthankfulness, pouting at a
      time of confrontation, etc.

- and we encouraged ourselves to do some weeding if necessary

- there's still one more major component we need in order to
  round out our biblical understanding of joy, and we're
  calling them "hidden facilitators"

 

 

- here's what we mean by that category - The methods God
  designed for the development of our joy are radically
  different then the way you or I would have designed it
- As a result - there are events, situations, issues that
  come into our lives on a daily basis that have the
  potential to help us develop this important spiritual fruit
- but they won't appear that way if we're not thinking
  biblically
- they won't appear that way if we're not walking in the
  Spirit

- they're hidden facilitators

- the rate at which we develope this important spiritual fruit
  is directly affected by:

    1) how skilled we are at recognizing these situations
    2) how willing we are to take the steps God advocates
       even when we don't feel like it
    3) how believing we are when we don't see immediate
       results or the immediate resolution of the kinds of
       situations we'll be discussing tonight

- we're studying what the Bible reveals as hidden
  facilitators to the development of our joy

- last week we said that when we think about the opposite of
  joy, we might be tempted to think of sorrow
- if I can just avoid sorrow, and sorrowful situations,
  then I'll be able to develop the spiritual fruit of joy

- but we said - that can't be right - the opposite of joy
  can't be sorrow
- because our Lord was sorrowful on many occasions - surely
    there was nothing wrong with that
      - you wouldn't say - Lord, you need to avoid this
        situation, because it will hinder your joy
      - the same Bible that commands us to rejoice evermore
        tells us that Paul was sorrowful when his friend was
        ill
      - the Ephesian elders wept when Paul had to leave

- so the point we've made in the past is that - the opposite
  of joy can't be sorrow

- but now we need to strengthen further - because the
  Scripture teaches that:

I. Joy And Sorrow Are Connected In The Scripture

    - here's the point - not only are joy and sorrow not
      opposites, but the Bible makes it clear that you and I
      could not have the kind of joy God desires us to have
      without experiencing sorrow, and handling t biblically

    - now you might say, wait a minute
        - just how universal is this - is true for everyone?
        - just how serious is this - how intense?

    - our Lord used an illustration to teach that truth that
      I think all of us, or surely half of us, will be able
      to understand
- please turn to John 16

- in this chapter Jesus has been talking about His death
- He's telling his disciples - in a little while you won't
  see me - I'll be gone -- and then in a little while you'll
  see me again

- let's pick up the story in verse 19 (read 19-21)

- see, we're saying that sorrow and joy are connected, and:

    A. Jesus illustrates this with the birth process!

- let's read a couple more and then we'll try to put some of
  this together (read 22-24)

- Jesus is saying - disciples - if you were able to start
   praying in my name today - and I ansered those requests,
   the joy wouldn't be the same
- but, because you're going to have to experience some
  sorrow, you're going to have to have a period of time where
  I'm gone, and you don't understand where I am, you have bo
  contact with me
- when that contact is re-established - you'll have great joy
- JOY THAT IS ONLY POSSIBLE AFTER HAVING GONE THROUGH THE
  SORROW

- now let's think for a moment why Jesus used the birth
  process to illustrate this point
- let me suggest three reasons

        1. universal experience

            - now, moms - don't say "what, universal - he
              didn't suffer at all - in fact all he did was
              that silly huh-uhh-huh stuff!

            - universal in this sense - any mom who's gone
              through the birth process has experienced some
              pain, discomfort, and sorrow

    - I've had a number of opportunities to visit couples in
      the hospital after they've had a baby, and I've heard
      the process described a number of ways, but here's some
      phrases you'll never hear in that situation:

    - "it didn't hurt a bit"
    - "I didn't feel a thing"
    - "it was over before I knew it"

- we can kid a little about that - but we also need to think
  of it seriously
    - I remember the day Kris delivered Bethany
    - I remember thinking - she really loves God, loves me,
      loves the idea of bringing up a child to serve the Lord
      in order to go through this pain - and it was painful

    - Jesus wanted his disciples to see, and he wants us to
      see, that’s the kind of pain, the intensity of sorrow
      I'm talking about


- he also used this picture to illustrate that:

        2. process isn't pointless

            - Jesus said "as soon as she is delivered of the
              child"

            - Kris was 2-3 weeks late when we had Bethany, so
              she had to be induced, where they give you
              something intervenously that makes you have
              contractions
            - the problem was, there were some other things
              happening physically, so the contractions
              weren't having any effect
    - they were very painful, and very regular, but we
      weren't getting any closer to delivery
    - Kris would go through an hour of hard labor, the nurse
      would come in and check and say - nothings happening
    - the Doctor even came in after several hours, and just
      shook his head

    - that was so discouraging, because she was going through
      the pain but it seemed pointless

- finally the Doctor gave her a certain shot, and it was
  exactly what she needed and the process really took off
- they'd come in and say - you're making progress, you're
  getting closer
     - I was beside myself with excitement, Kris was even
       smiling a little (not a lot!) (cause the pain wasn't
       pointless)
           - then the nurse said - I can see the head
               - I can remember making a statement I made at
                 least a dozen times - way to go honey, way
                 to go honey - its working, its working

- Jesus is saying - disciples, that’s going to be a time of
  great sorrow - but don't shy away from that
      - its just like the sorrow involved in the birth
        process - its not pointless

- see...
        3. That puts sorrow in perspective

        - INPUT - what does Jesus say happens after the baby
                  is born?  (she doesn't remember the pain)

        - that’s another thing I've never heard at the
          hospital - I've never heard a mom say "it wasn't
          worth it" or "if I knew this is all I'd get, I'd
          never have bothered'
        - on the other hand, that’s not a good time for a
          husband to say, honey, would you like to do that
          again?
        - but see, the point is, the joy at the end of
          the process puts the sorrow in perspective

- now let's try to wrap some of this up.  INPUT - what would
  have happened if the disciples would have said - "Lord, we
  want the joy, but we don't want to go through the sorrow
  that has to come first"
     - (the Lord would have said - "that’s impossible"
- the kind of joy the Lord wanted his disciples to experience
  could only come after handling this sorrow biblically

- Now I want to be sure I make this statement - I'm not
  saying that this is the only source of joy
- I'm not saying that joy can only come through sorrow

- but its clear that not only are sorrow and joy not
  opposites, they're actually connected in many places in the
  Scripture - and we will not develop joy at the rate or to
  the extent that God desires unless we understand the
  connection, and act upon that understanding

- see, some of us have missed out on developing joy because
  we've kicked against the sorrow
- we've failed to see it's joy producing potential

- let me choose one that’s fresh in our minds
- Tim Bastian made this point to me after last Wednesday's
  service and I asked Sam and Jamie if it was okay to use it

- I think everybody would agree that the commissioning
  service Wednesday evening was a great time in the life of
  our church
- but let me ask you - was there some sorrow involved in
  that?
- was there, and is there, some legitimate reason for tears?

- of course there is - for everyone in our church family

- but you, and I, and Sam & Jamie - have a decision to make
  about how we're going to choose to handle it

    - I can think of at least 3 possibilities

    1) We not going to go through the sorrow. Someone could
       have gotten up Sun. night, wrapped there arms around
       Sam and Jamie, and said - you can't go - we're not
       letting you go - you have to stay in Lafayette

       - you might say – that’s silly - it is, but some folks
         handle sorrow that way - if its going to hurt - if
         there's going to be any pain - I'm not going to do
         it. That will steal my joy - I don't want any sorrow

    2) another possibility - We'll go through it, but we're
       not going to like it. We're going to get bitter about
       it.  We're going to focus on all the negatives
       involved. We're going to grumble and complain.  We'll
       go through the sorrow - but everybody going to know we
       don't like it.

    3) But thank the Lord there's another possibility. To
       acknowledge, and believe, and live in light of the
       truth that there is joy available for us, for Sam and
       Jamie, that can come and will come only through the
       sorrow of parting.

        INPUT - How can this situation produce joy that
                wouldn't be possible without it?
                (for either us or them?)

- now, one of the questions we need to ask tonight is - has
  the Lord placed me in other situations that are hidden
  facilitators - but because I haven't chosen to view them
  that way - no joy has been produced so far?

- this point also illustrates the difference between biblical
  joy and the world's joy
- the world says - gain joy by getting your mind off your
  sorrows
- drink this - take this pill
- or just try this amusement - which literally means - don't
  think

- God's route to joy is the thinking man's method - but it
  takes belief that God's way is right - and it takes
  willingness to do the necessary mental work

- I realize you might say - PV - what we're talking about
  tonight is hard - and it is
- but that’s why this is a fruit of the Spirit

- that’s why Paul said in Romans 14:17 - "For the kingdom of
  God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace, and
  joy in the Holy Spirit."
- you've got a definite, active part to play - but developing
  this fruit in this manner requires the Holy Spirit helping
  you understand his Word and how to apply it

- now, I've listed several other passages that teach this
  same principle

    B. Solomon illustrated it with farming - Psalm 126:5-6

        - we won't take time to look at this one, but it
          would be a good one to study in your own personal
          time

        - I've also listed some other passages that go along
          with this idea as well

    C. Other passages

        Isa. 51:11, 61:3, Jer. 31:13, II Cor. 8:2,
        I Thes. 1:6, Heb. 10:34, 12:2, 12:11, James 1:2,
        I Peter 4:13

- in the time we have remaining, I'd like to look at some:

II. Instances Where Sorrow Produced Joy

    - there are a number of examples of this in the
      Scripture, -- I'd like to choose 2 different examples
      that illustrate two different ways this is described in
      the Bible

    A. Sorrow stemming from our own sin

        a number of the examples that connect sorrow and joy
        do so in terms of the sorrow we face as a result of
        sinning


        - isn't this true - much of the sorrow we do face is
          because of our own sin

        - some of us know all too well the truth of Prov.
          13:15 - The way of the transgressor is hard
        - in fact - some might say - some of the greatest
          sorrow I've ever known is because of sinful choices
          that I made, and the guilt that resulted, and the
          consequences that followed

            - that’s not surprising, because God makes it
              clear that sin brings sorrow:

            a. Prov. 14:12-13 - "There is a way which seemeth
                 right unto a man, but the ends thereof are
                 the ways of death.  Even in laughter, the
                 heart is sorrowful, and the end of that
                 mirth is heaviness."

            b. Jer. 30:15 - "Why criest thou over thine
                 affliction? Thy sorrow is incurable for the
                 multitude of thy iniquity; because thy sins
                 were increased, I have done these things
                 unto thee."

    - let me ask you to turn to this next one:

            c. Isa. 50:11 - "Behold, all ye that compass
                yourselves about with sparks; walk in the
                light of your fire, and in the sparks that
                you have kindled.  this shall ye have of mine
                hand; ye shall lay down in sorrow."

- now you might say - Boy PV, those are pretty negative
  verses, and they are - but that;s not the end of the story.
  Because God has built into the world sorrow as a natural
  result of sin, especially for the believer who has the Holy
  Spirit convicting him and a conscience that can be
  triggered by God's Word...look what's possible--

            d. Isa. 51:11 - "Therefore, the redeemed of the
                Lord shall return, and come with singing into
                Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their
                head; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and
                sorrow and mourning shall flee away."

- see, the point is this - some believers have it in their
  mind that its not fair that sin brings sorrow
    - they think - I ought to be able to do whatever I want
        without having to experience guilt, and the natural
        consequences of sin
    - we need to tell ourselves, sorrow and joy is connected
      in the Bible
         - and God has been very gracious to us by designing
           life in such a way that there is great sorrow
           because of sin, and even though God would prefer
           we didn't sin,
               - when we do - the sorrow sin produces can
                 lead to great joy if we'll respond properly
                 to the sorrow


- INPUT - assuming that a person is going to repent after
     experiencing sin's sorrow, how can joy result?

- point - if we look at a verse like Isa. 50:11 "this shall
     ye have of my hand - ye shall lay down in sorrow" and
     think - "that's mean or that's harsh", we don't know
     what we're talking about - because its that very dynamic
     that has the ability to produce the joy of repentance

- let me just stop there and say - if you're here tonight and
  you've been listening to these studies on joy and thinking
    "I can't have joy - because I'm involved in this sinful
     habit - or this sinful activity"
- God would say tonight that He doesn't want you to continue
  in that sorrow - he wants you to begin developing the
  spiritual fruit of joy - by making that issue right.

- so we're saying that there are many instances in the Bible
  where sorrow produced joy
- sometimes that's sorrow resulting from my own sin, but
  there's another category:

    B. Sorrow stemming from someone else's sin

        - there are clear occasions in the Bible where
          someone is experiencing sorrow which is not a
          direct result of their own sin
        - that’s happens in life, too
            - folks that you know get in trouble - and you're
              sorrowful over that
            - people sin against you -and there's sorrow that
              comes from that

        - there's a lot of examples of that in the Bible but
          I'm sure you know the greatest example.  Isaiah
          says in Isa. 53:3

        1. Isa. 53:3-4 "...He is despised and rejected of
            men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with
            grief...Surely he has borne our grief, and
            carried our sorrows..."

    - we sing the hymn by Phillip Bliss:

        "Man of Sorrows - what a name
         For the Son of God who came
         Ruined Sinners to reclaim
         Hallelujah, What a Savior!"

- the book of Hebrews says it this way - He endured the
    cross, despising the shame

- you and I aren't the only ones who have experienced sorrow
  that stemmed from someone else's sin

- the writer of Hebrews tells us one of the reasons our
  Savior did it - you know the verse:

 

        2. Heb. 12:2 - "Looking unto Jesus, the author and
           finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was
           set before Him, endured the cross, despising the
           shame, and is set down at the right hand of the
           throne of God."

- see, some of us spend so much time kicking against the
  sorrow
- I demand my rights
- he shouldn't have done that to me
- she shouldn't have said that to me
- I didn't deserve that kind of treatment

- that we miss a great opportunity to allow the spirit of God
  to develop his fruit of joy