Sorrow and Joy!
James Smith, 1861
"You now therefore have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man takes from you." John 16:22
How much we have to grieve over things here below. How frequently we are in sorrow. Well may it he said. "Long nights and darkness dwell below!" But it always was so with the Lord's people, and will be until Jesus comes again, or we depart to be with him. It was so with our Lord's immediate disciples, especially when he was about to leave them, which led his loving, sympathizing heart to say unto them, "You now therefore have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man takes from you."
Their Present Experience."You now therefore have sorrow." It was painful — very painful. Their beloved Lord was leaving them, just when they felt that they most needed His presence. Their knowledge was very imperfect, for though they had the very best teacher — they were such poor dull scholars, that they had learned but very little. Their faith was weak, it was the faith of the babe, not of the young man. This led the Master to say to them. "You believe in God, believe also in me." You have confidence in God, have confidence in me. Their hopes were disappointed. They expected that their Master would set up a temporal kingdom, deliver them from the power of the Romans, and reign in more glory than Solomon. Satan was busy with them, as he always is when the heart is sad and sorrowful. It was the hour of temptation, they were being put to the test, and a severe test it was. These things united filled them with sorrow, therefore Jesus said, "You now therefore have sorrow."
The Savior's Promise."I will see you again." This he did personally and literally after his resurrection, again and again. This he does often spiritually, when he comes and manifests himself to them, holding communication with them, and filling them with his joy and peace. Every believer knows what the presence of Jesus is, and how blessed it is to see him, open the heart to him, and rejoice and glory in him. He will see them again soon, at his second advent, when he will raise their bodies from the grave, and take them to be with him forever. Sorrowful believer, you will soon see Jesus! He will come and receive you unto himself, that where he is, there you may be also. Then his glory will never more be concealed from your eyes, then his sweet presence will no more be missed by you — but then you will be filled with joy, and glory in his name forever.
The Effect of His Presence."Your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man takes from you." The presence of Jesus, after his resurrection, filled his disciples with joy. Their faith in him was confirmed. Their gloomy fears were dispersed. His love to them was proved. His faithfulness was set in the clearest light. Their interest in him was realized. They felt that their Heaven was sure.
The presence of Jesus with his people now, fills them with joy. It inspires them with holy confidence. It dissipates all their fears, giving them boldness and courage. It manifests his love in the sweetest and most affecting way. It proves him to he faithful to his word, and warrants them to trust in him evermore. It assures them of their saving interest in all he is and has, and enables them to read their title clear, to mansions in the skies. No man can take away this joy, for it flows from a source out of man's reach, it is supported by that which man cannot disturb, and it lives and triumphs in spite of all that man can do.
Sorrow on account of the absence of Jesus — proves that we have grace. No one can sorrow for his absence — who has not enjoyed his presence, who has not received his grace. Where Jesus has appeared once — he will appear again. He never pays a solitary visit. One visit, ensures more. If he has come once — he will come again; if he has shone on us once — he will shine again. If therefore we mourn his absence today, let us expect his return tomorrow.
When Jesus comes, sorrow flees and joy returns. This is always the case, for the presence of Jesus is the life, the joy, the Heaven of his people. It is so now, and it will be so forever. Spiritual joy is independent of man. Man cannot give it, neither can man take it away. O may we enjoy much of the presence of Jesus on earth, as introductory to the enjoyment of his presence forever in Heaven!