I know your grief for I have been there in its depths.
“Jesus wept.” John 11:35
Such a short verse yet so comforting… It is the shortest verse in the bible but quite powerful. Because we know that in our sorrows, we are not alone. Jesus knows sadness. He knows grief. He knows what it feels like to be outcast by others who do not understand this disease and the effect it has on our bodies. Isaiah 53:3 says, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised and we esteemed Him not.”
But then in other verses, the Bible tells us to rejoice. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says, “Rejoice always.” Philippians 4:14 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!” How is it that Jesus was a man of sorrows and wept yet He rejoiced? And how do I possibly rejoice in my current circumstances? Honestly, there are times when rejoicing is not one of the top things I am thinking of doing. I am thinking how am I going to get through this next minute, this next hour of physical agony and exhaustion.
I think there are many answers to this. For me, one is that Jesus is telling us, ‘No matter what your circumstances are, rejoice in the Cross. Rejoice in the fact that I have conquered it all. I have won the victory. Because of my death, you have life. This thing about sickness will be no more. You will remember it no more because you will be with me and get to gaze at me face-face.’ When I look at it this way, I see that joy and sorrow can go hand in hand. In 2 Corinthians 2: 6, the apostle Paul says, “… dying yet we live on, beaten and yet not killed, sorrowful yet always rejoicing.”
At various times in my health journey, I have felt quite sorrowful, and I have questioned whether this makes me an unfaithful soldier. I think, “As a Christian is it ok to be sorrowful? I see lots of people running around joyful and yet I feel sorrowful in this moment.” As stated above, we see that even Paul felt this dichotomy that we sometimes experience. And it was important enough to include it in the Bible for us to know.
Probably this is because we have a God who weeps and yet rejoices. He weeps at the sin in this world. He weeps at our sickness and our suffering. He weeps at what it will cost his Son. Jesus weeps at the death of his friend Lazarus and at all death. He is so distraught in the garden that He sweats blood. He weeps yet He knows the end. He knows that God will come one day and right all things. Jesus’ death brings triumph. Therefore, we can rejoice knowing that Jesus knows the beginning and the end. We are finite so we cannot see the whole picture. But Jesus can. He has a purpose that includes His suffering, our suffering, and through it, God is most glorified, and we will know more joy than we could ever imagine. Yes, it is ok to weep uncontrollably and yet rejoice because we have a God who weeps yet rejoices knowing the beginning and the end and all the pieces in between. He just asks us to gaze up at Him remembering the Cross but also the resurrection. Remembering it is ok to be sorrowful yet rejoicing.