We shall all know sorrow. At some point in every life there is loss, there is guilt, there is the realization of how we have failed. All of these must eventually lead to sorrow. Yet sorrow need not be the end, in fact it most usually is not. Sorrow will produce death, or repentance leading to salvation and joy.
I know, sorrow and joy seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. Most dictionaries and thesauri (that’s the plural of thesaurus, I had to look it up) list “joy” as an antonym for “sorrow,” but I would question that. I’ll tell you why in just a moment.
First, what type of sorrow leads to death? Paul writes that “the sorrow of the world produces death.” That is how sorrow works in the heart of one who has no hope in the eternal. Judas, who betrayed Jesus, when he saw that Jesus had been condemned was full of remorse or sorrow. He sought to return the blood money and then “he went away and hanged himself.”
We know that Jesus knew sorrow. The prophet Isaiah foretold that Jesus would be “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Yet we know that Jesus, “for the joy set before Him endured the cross.”
Paul describes the sorrow endured by the church at Corinth as “sorrow that is according to the will of God,” which produced in them “earnestness, vindication of themselves, indignation, fear, longing, zeal and avenging of wrong.”
Joy does not protect us from sorrow, but it certainly enables us to benefit from sorrow. It softens it, sweetens it, and helps us to focus on the hope that endures in the midst of every sorrow as God proves again and again that He walks with us through even the deepest of sorrows .