Sorrow Is a Christian's Middle Name
What if I told you that Christians are not the happiest people on earth? Christians are actually constantly mourning, but never in a dejected suicidal way. Because even if Christians are not the happiest people on earth, we are for eternity filled with joy in Christ.
In that context, I think sorrow is indeed a Christian’s middle name; I’m going to share with you why I came to that conclusion. Read on below.
Sorrow from the world
John 15:18; ““If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”
1 Peter 3:13-17;” 13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.”
The moment God quickened me in Christ, I have seen how the world turned from accomplice to enemy. I’m not talking about the created world (which I am absolutely in love with) nor the people of the world, rather, when I say “world,” I mean the same thing as in scriptures; World means the system, philosophies, and behavior that is completely contrary and hostile towards all that God is and teaches.
Consequently, having the world as an enemy is not the sorrow itself, as Christians we should recognize that friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4). The sorrow comes from being human, and as a human we still deal with emotions, we sorrow over precious things we lose; moreover, as a Christian at war with the world there will be loses and in those loses comes sorrow. Especially when it comes through the form of losing family and friends, being hated and threatened, laughed and scoffed at, mistreated, harassed, etc. Yes, I know we should count those loses as rubbish that we may gain Christ; I absolutely agree with that, but in all honesty, as we experience those loses and as we count it as rubbish there will be sorrow to fight through. (Philippians 2:7-9)
Living for Christ includes a lot of sorrow, it’s never an automatic nor an easy thing to do. It takes faith, and praise God for He has given us exactly that. I mean, Christians are not numb. We feel, we cry, get hurt and fear; it’s what we do during those times that makes us different as a child of God. What makes Christians martyrs is the fact that we are able to see, by grace and faith, that Christ is supremely worthy of praise and allegiance, that no amount of sorrow or tantalizing deals from the world could ever change our minds. But through all that, there is sorrow, nevertheless, as the verse says, we count it as rubbish that we may gain Christ. And it’s absolutely worth it.
Sorrow for the world
Luke 19:10; “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Matthew 9:36; “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
This time it refers to the people of the world. Have you ever walked down the street and just find yourself weeping for all the souls squandering their lives away? Have you ever been wearied to death from seeing children get abused and raised so carelessly? Have you ever felt your heart breaking as you watch your family not serving Christ? Have you ever cried yourself to sleep as you pray for all the lost in different depressing situations? To Christians, that occur every waking moment of our lives.
You see, part of being in Christ is seeing everything, prominently people, through Christ’s eyes. It’s like if you stand beside Christ as He saw the multitudes in Matthew 9:36, you, too, would be moved with compassion because you see them as Christ sees them---a sheep having no shepherd. But unlike Jesus Christ, a Christian often fails to act according to that compassion, something that doubles the sorrow altogether. Oh how we need to cling to Christ more and more each day for the courage in obedience we so often lack.
Sorrow in the Church
Romans 12:15; “15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
1 Thessalonians 5:14; “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.”
Colossians 3:13; bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
The bible calls those who are now in Christ as the body of Christ. We all have a good concept of what a body is and how it works; it is interwoven and interdependent. And as for the Church (another name for believers), we are Christ’s body and Christ is the head, our source and command central. My point there is that it’s impossible for you to be a part of a body and feel disconnected from it. If the hand is not working or is hurt, the whole body bears the same consequence.
Likewise, seeing a brother being unruly, feebleminded, and weak will send concern throughout the rest of the members. In Christ’s family, everyone weeps with those who weep, everyone rejoices with those who rejoice. It’s actually really beautiful, to see the love of Christ working through us in such a selfless Christ-honoring way. But yes, there comes sorrow with it.
Although sorrow is not only found in the context of encouraging one another, but also when it comes to grievances. As sinners saved by grace that are being sanctified, there are sure to be conflicts to arise as a part of the whole process. This actually gives Christians opportunities to bear with another, to forgive and truly love one another, and do it because God has first done it to each and every one of us. But boy, do a heavy kind of sorrow comes with it! I mean, we can bear the world’s antipathy much better than our very own brothers’ and sisters’ offenses against us, don’t we? We come more prepared with the former while there comes an element of betrayal in the latter that makes it much worse.
Nonetheless, we take this sorrow, as genuine and painful as it is, and give it to Christ in exchange of a genuine love for one another as the body of Christ.
Romans 7:24-25; “24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
2 Corinthians 5:17;” Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Ta-da! This one really hits home. I urge everyone including myself to have a further study regarding this topic because it is very crucial that we grow in our understanding in regards with it. This is practically wrapped around our identity in Christ, and I’m only going to have a brief discussion of it that fits for the purpose of this article.
“Wretched man that I am!”--- This echoes in my mind pretty much all the time. But I am speaking it in the context of the verse where it is found. You see when we were redeemed, we instantly became new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), but our humanness/flesh (that includes our emotions, affections, wills, and desires) is yet to be redeemed (Romans 8:23). Sin has indeed been defeated, its dominion and condemnation over us have been completely broken through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:2, 5-14), but sin’s presence and influence remains not in us but around us. This is where sanctification comes in---becoming who we are now in Christ. You see, our identity in Christ (the new creation) is our only identity. What we are being transformed into in our sanctification is becoming our identity in word and manner.
“Our ability to sin was not yet taken away at our salvation. What happened was that we were given the ability to obey God, to know Him, and to say no to sin. Sin’s power and dominion is broken and defeated by Christ’s work of salvation, but sin’s presence has not yet been taken away...not until the great day of redemption of our bodies. This is why we’re sanctified. (1 Thessalonians 4:7, Titus 2:11-12, 1 Peter 2:11-12)
We now have holiness in terms of position because of the righteousness of Christ, but we are still being made holy in practice through the power of Christ. (Hebrew 12:3-6)”-apG
There lies then the sorrow---when we grow in Christ and see how truly we fall short of God, to see how our sin grieves God’s heart and how much we have transgressed God’s law will make us hunger and thirst for righteousness; the more we see God’s holiness as a consuming blinding light, the more we yearn to be like Christ.
The more we hate sin and struggle against our fleshy desires, the more we cry, “Wretched man that I am! The more we shall also cry, “Abba, father!” And as we ask the question, “who shall rescue me from this body of death?” we shall answer in triumph, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
The fight is on, Christian soldier! Not for victory but from victory!
Joy in Christ
So in conclusion, a Christian may have sorrow upon sorrow in this life (both the good and bad kind of sorrow), we shall for eternity have joy in Christ. That is where our joy is---in Christ, nowhere else. Christians may go through valleys after valleys, but we shall stand firm in the truth that the God of the mountain is the God of the valleys. We shall rejoice in Christ alone.
Romans 8:38-39; “38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS; AGAIN I WILL SAY, REJOICE!-Philippians 4:4