The beginning of sorrows
For troubles surround me – too many to count! – Psalms 40:12
18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.
19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.
20 . . . But with eager hope,
21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.
22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.
The story is told of a young woman speaking to her mother on her wedding day.
She says, “Oh mother, my life has been so shaky and often artificial. I have often been beside myself. But now, I am at the end of all my troubles.”
In her mother quipped, “Oh dear, you just do not know which end.”
Life is filled with transitions that are very trying and difficult: becoming an adult and being free from your parent supervision, graduating from school and going out into the workforce, getting married, having your first child, loss of a loved one, transitioning from marriage to separation, or divorce.
In each case, we commonly think that we are at the end of all our troubles. Little do we realize that our troubles are only beginning.
The sentiment is reflected in the proverb: “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” People so often think they would be happier in a different set of circumstances. However, usually, the proverb implies that the other circumstances really are not any better. It is frequently a caution against dissatisfaction with your present lot in life.
If you say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, you mean that other people often seem to be in a better situation than you, but in reality, their situation may not be as appealing as it seems. Often, a transition of our own making is the beginning of sorrows rather than an upgrade.
A major transition is coming to planet Earth and its people as the prophesied Seventieth Week of Daniel draws near. It is characterized by the beginning of sorrows, travail, or the pain of childbirth.
Matthew 24:8 All these are the beginning of sorrows (KJV).
The Greek word translated sorrows (KJV), travail, or birth pangs is odin. Odin is a normal word that is used to describe the pain of childbirth. He came to refer to intolerable anguish from calamities preceding the advent of the Messiah. The Old Testament prophets used the metaphor to depict terrible suffering in general (Isaiah 13:8, Hosea 13:13). Like birth pangs, the sorrows increase in intensity and frequency.
When the result is the birth of a child it is well worth it. But what if the sorrows just continue to cycle indefinitely?
REFLECT & PRAY
“Archaeologists have unearthed small ‘tear bottles’ in which mourners collected their tears and then deposited the bottle at the gravesite. The point is simply that God is aware of what we feel and how we suffer, and His records are accurate” (Wiersbe).
Father thank You that You are always with me through my transitions in life. What care and concern You have for me! Truly You take note of all of my tears and keep record. How much You love me. It takes my breath away. You are my best friend forever!
Hard times filled with anguish and sorrow are no surprise to the Father. The Lord Jesus Christ explained that on planet Earth difficulties are expected. They are the standard operating procedure of the human race.
John 16:33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
The Lord Jesus Christ did not simply dump the truck on His disciples. He explained that trials and sorrows are part and parcel of life on planet Earth. Because He had overcome the world, He encouraged them that they might have peace through Him. The Father knows in advance everything that each child of the King will experience in life. He is well aware and tracks all of our sorrows. But more than simply knowing, He is with all children of the King during each and every ordeal. He does not overlook anyone!
Hebrews 13:5 He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Psalms 56:8 You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
The Father tracks all of our experiences and is familiar with all of the anguish and sorrow we experience. But sorrow often turns to joy. The travail of childbirth is often forgotten and replaced by joy when the child comes into the world.
John 16:21 It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world.
Many of the decisions we make regrettably bring us great anguish and pain. However, that is not the end, only part of the process. Our sadness can be transformed into joy. The Father has a remarkable way of making this so. In the same way that a woman forgets her travail and pain when her child is born, our sorrows can be exchanged for the joy deep down in our hearts. The joy that only the Lord Jesus Christ provides.
How does this happen? The Lord Jesus Christ shows the way. We are to look beyond our present circumstances and focus on the future. When we focus on our difficulties in the present, the consequent distress and sorrow throw us into a downward cycle of remorse and sadness. But if we look beyond the present to the future, our sorrow turns to joy. Children of the King have suffered for His name throughout the centuries. But amid sorrow, the record reveals that they experienced sweet, pleasant times in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was with them, and He will be with us.
Jeremiah 31:12 They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights of Jerusalem. They will be radiant because of the LORD’s good gifts . . .. Their life will be like a watered garden, and all their sorrows will be gone.
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
29 “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
30 “For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”