Have you ever heard someone say that God turned their sorrow into joy? It sounds super cliché and doesn’t even logically make a lot of sense. How does pain become joyful? It honestly sounds like something a person just made up to try to get them through a hard time. But here’s the truth: it’s real. You hear this said all the time by Christians around the world, yet you don’t really take it seriously or understand what it means until it happens in your own life.
It’s not until you suffer from something terrible, where the only thing you have to get you through it is Jesus, that the saying becomes more than just some cute quote you can embroider on a pillow. For each person, that “terrible” thing looks different. It could be anything, from a loss of a loved one, to abuse, to a terrible year at school, or anything else that caused you to feel like you just can’t do it anymore. These things look different on each person but can produce the same results if we take the time to trust Jesus and to allow Him to be our anchor.
Personally, I’m really independent. I don’t like needing help. I don’t want help, and I try to convince myself I don’t need help a lot of the time. But just like anyone else in this world, we all need help from time to time. Sometimes we can be so stubborn and so focused on showing God that we can handle things on our own, that it takes us being wrecked by some circumstance for us to finally fall on our face and tell God we can’t do it without Him. It takes a situation bigger than ourselves, bigger than we can understand, for us to really grasp how much we need God. Pain is terrible, and no one likes how it feels. But God uses anything and everything for his glory and to turn us into better images of the Son, and this is something we can hold onto in times of pain.
I choose to put my trust in Jesus, because I believe He has everything under His control and that He knows more than I know. I’m too weak to be strong enough to handle the terrible, painful things that happen to us in this world by myself. I need Jesus. I don’t know how anyone gets through these terrible losses, painful seasons of life, or miserable circumstances without relying on Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, trusting Jesus doesn’t take the pain away or anything like that. In fact sometimes trusting Him feels like it hurts more than if you just tried to deal with the problem alone. This is because as humans it is hard for us to relinquish control and choose to give the problems to someone else. However, even though it’s painful and it sucks, it is at the point of surrendering your problems to God that your sorrow begins to turn into joy.
No, this is not a quick fix that magically makes your hardships in life disappear, as I’m sure you already know that life is not that simple. When God turns your sorrows into joy, it’s not as much a change of circumstance as it is a change in outlook. It doesn’t mean you are necessarily excited or happy you are dealing with such a tough experience, but what it does mean is that you are slowly able to see the circumstance more similarly to how God sees it. You’re able to see how good can come out of the situation, you can look in the face of danger/struggle and not be as afraid, and you begin to feel peace even while the circumstance is still roaring around you. God is amazing and all powerful, and He has the ability to comfort us in hard times and remind us that we are not alone. Often, those who truly put their trust in Him and have faith in spite of the all-consuming notion that we should get to know and understand everything find that they have an easier time seeing how some good could come out of it. When we begin to see how our struggles are shaping us into better images of God, and how he is using our struggle for some purpose greater than just ourselves, we begin to feel less sorrowful about our situation, and start to feel more joyful in the refuge we have taken in the Lord.
Knowing that God is there to comfort us and to be our anchor in a storm is what can get us through such rough circumstances in life. We cannot control a lot of things, but putting our hope in Jesus allows us to have hope because we know that things are in His control, that He sees our future, and that He is taking care of everything for us.
But, just because we know that, “God’s got it,” doesn’t mean we don’t still experience human emotions. I know for me, sometimes I get so angry with God, so frustrated, that I can’t think. I can’t understand why I’m having to deal with the things I have to deal with. I don’t understand what I did to deserve such trials, and why I’m being punished for something I didn’t even do or plan to happen. It feels so unfair. Some days, this is how I respond and act, because I am human, and no one can be joyful all the time. And that’s okay. We are not called to be happy creatures all the time. We are allowed to get mad and we are allowed to be upset about things. The point isn’t to force yourself to be happy with all the terrible things that are happening in your life; the point is to acknowledge that pain but simultaneously give it to Jesus as we are dealing with it, with the knowledge that He will take care of it, which over time produces a joy and peace like no other. Some days it’s rough, and some days it feels like the world is turning upside down when I am dealing with such struggles. But, if I’m being honest, more often than not, I have felt hope and peace on most days because God has turned my sorrows into joys.
If you think I’m bragging, please don’t. My goal is not to rub it in those who are suffering’s faces about how well I’m doing, how put together my life is, or anything like that. Trust me, my life isn’t like that. But I have found so much joy in the Lord through relying on His strength instead of mine and learning to trust Him even when I don’t want to. This isn’t something that happened overnight though. It took me a long time to be able to trust the Lord in this way, and it took the help of others as well, for me to reach this point. Don’t expect peace with your circumstances to happen overnight, because it certainly doesn’t. It takes a lot of time and patience, a lot of praying, a lot of help and encouragement from people close to you, and a lot of hope that things will get better. And they will get better! Slow progress is still progress. Trusting the Lord step by step is what gets us through the journey of life, not giant changes overnight.
Today I want to remind you that God sees you where you are, He is prepared to meet you where you are, and He understands where you are. God knows your pain and your struggles; He knows how much they hurt and wants to help you with them. Please allow Him to help! Pray and tell Him your problems, pray for a heart of joy, and begin to take steps to try to trust God with those problems even when you don’t want to or it feels forced. I promise that over time, you will start to experience a heart change, and you’ll understand first hand what I mean by God turning your sorrow into joy. And you won’t regret all the effort it took to get there one bit.