Sorrow -- into joy

IT was not a happy time. Work that my supervisor had praised was canceled, along with my services, at the next organizational level. An endeavor I had pursued independently for many months had failed. And an important relationship lay in ruins. I felt as though my life did too. When our giving is heartfelt in any area of life, defeats are saddening. But this sorrow does not mark the disappearance of good from our lives. In fact, it can move us into new dimensions of Christian living where joy is more reliably present.

Christ Jesus was known as the ``man of sorrows.'' But to him the source of sorrow lay deeper than the unhappy aspects of human life. It was found in people's acceptance of the awful misconception that man is separate from God and thus exposed to evil and misery.

When Jesus regenerated bodies andreformed lives, he did far more than cheer hearts by improving circumstances. He showed forth God's kingdom, spiritual reality. There God's likeness, the true selfhood of us all, expresses God's purpose and fullness. Joy is inherent in his nature. As Jesus' healing works showed, sorrow must eventually yield, along with all that is transient and insubstantial, to spiritual reality and its joy. He said to his disciples, ``Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.''1

Joy sought within the sequence of events between birth and death can be elusive. The toil and sorrow predicted for Adam may seem to be ours too.2

But Christian Science affirms that our real being, God's spiritual image, is not a fallen creature, subject to perpetual sorrow. It has never been separated from God but dwells within the light of His kingdom. As men and women abandon -- sometimes through sorrow -- the belief that they are mortal and imperiled, they begin to discover that spiritual selfhood. Spiritually explaining the Bible reference to Adam's sorrow, Mary Baker Eddy3 writes: ``Through toil, struggle, and sorrow, what do mortals attain? They give up their belief in perishable life and happiness; the mortal and material return to dust, and the immortal is reached.''4

When hopes for warm relationships or purposeful living are unfulfilled, we may feel stripped of everything worth having.Yet this sorrow can mark the dissolution of the belief that genuine spiritual fullness could possibly depend on material circumstance. When we sorrow, not over our human losses but over the terrible supposition that we are distanced from God, we begin to drop that sad belief. Turning away from that which is perishable, we leave behind the source of sorrow. We come into the presence of joy.

The activities and relationships that I lost during that difficult time were not restored. But I was. The finite selfhood I had struggled to fulfill was found to be dust. But the identity that God created -- my real selfhood -- remained. In fact, it became clearer. And this is what enriches human life -- the shedding of a false, materialistic sense of identity and the progressive realization of our true being, which includes all good from God.

In Christ Jesus' life that gloomy picture of defeat dissolved in the brightness of the resurrection and the glory of the ascension. Jesus showed us exactly why our lamentation must be turned into joy. He showed that spiritual reality, the abiding place of immortal man, is concrete fact. We can begin to discover this reality today. We can find, in place of sorrow, the joy that endures.

1John 16:20. 2See Genesis 3:17-19. 3The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 4Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 536.

You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalms 30:5

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