Joy and Sorrow - Galatians 5

Dr. Steve Viars January 29, 1991 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

- 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
- they won't appear that way if we're not walking in the

- 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
- 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

- 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

- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- drink this - take this pill
- or just try this amusement - which literally means - don't

- 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

- 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

- 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
- 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

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video