One of the songs that plays throughout my day is by a band from North Carolina called Elevation Worship. It’s titled “Graves into Gardens.” A portion of the chorus says, “You turn mourning to dancing. You give beauty for ashes. You turn shame into glory. You’re the only one who can.” I love the upbeat music but the lyrics get me every time.
Allow me to explain why.
Jesus continued explaining to His disciples what was in their future and how life could be navigated without His physical presence. Much of what He said confused them but would make sense as they recalled His warnings and encouragements.
For example, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy…Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy.” (John 16:20,22).
Only God can turn grief into joy. It is a miracle that we see revealed at the cross.
That day had to be the worse day imaginable for Jesus. Betrayal, rejection, and horrendous agony suffered on the cross. But it was this barbaric cross that transformed sorrow into joy for Him. Hebrews 12:2 explains that Jesus “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross...”
Jesus understood that His last hours would be filled with sorrow, grieving and pain but joy would follow.
That day had to be the worse day imaginable for the disciples. They lost their best friend. They failed Him. They abandoned Him.
The disciples would need encouragement. They needed to be told that joy would follow. They were warned that they would experience “a time of grief.” Time is needed for grieving and no one can judge the length of time anyone needs for the process. That’s between them and God.
Yet, following their grief, the disciples rejoiced because they experienced the risen Christ. But that would not be the last time they experienced sorrow. They would grieve again as they watched one another endure persecution and death…but joy would follow. And finally the day came when complete joy was realized in their final home with Jesus.
That’s our story, too. Life includes seasons of grief. Upon placing our faith in Jesus, we were not promised fame, prosperity and a comfortable, easy life. We were told we would have struggles, opposition, hostility and even persecution. The gospel cannot be sugar coated with false promises because it becomes a false gospel that misleads people to unbelief in the work and person of Jesus.
The promise is that God loves His children and never leaves us. The promise is that He is with us in the valleys of life as well as on the mountaintops. The promise is that we received righteousness and redemption and are forever His.
Psalm 30:11 says (parentheses are mine), “You turned my wailing into dancing (God can morph sorrow into joy); You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy (God can also replace sorrow with joy), that my heart may sing to You and not be silent (God gives us a testimony that will glorify Him.)”
This I know. The worst day of my life transformed into the best day of my life. Loss of relationships with people I dearly loved, loss of security and dreams caused me to wake up one morning thinking, “I will never be happy again. I will never truly love life like I did.” The season lasted longer than I wanted. Grief lasted even longer. But…God. He used that period of grief to draw me closer to Him. He breathed revival into my spirit. I saw miracles. I saw hearts captured for Him. I have a testimony of God’s continual presence and working everything for His glory. I’ve tasted His goodness. My heart sings and my mouth speaks. He turned mourning into dancing.
Thought to ponder:
Do I quickly remember my hope in seasons of grieving?
Do I patiently allow others their “time to grieve” while I pray for joy to follow?