Turning Sorrow Into Joy Through Prayer, Part 1 (Praying Through the Bible #180)

TEXT: John 16:21-27

21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.

26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:

27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.

We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 179 messages in this series.

This is message #180 titled, Turning Sorrow Into Joy Through Prayer, Part 1

John MacArthur said, “In these verses, Jesus gives what I think is the greatest comfort possible and that is the promise to the sorrowing person that the problem is only temporary. That’s a real comfort because you can look ahead to that. That’s the hope that keeps joy where there could be nothing but sorrow. Jesus could have told the disciples to hang on, things were going to change. But even a few hours of their sorrow is a burden that He carries. Such is the sympathy of Christ for His own beloved children that even a few hours of sorrow He desires to eliminate.”

The passage of Scripture that we are looking at today, and will be looking at over the next few weeks, is a part of the Upper Room discourse that Jesus held with His disciples at the Last Supper. This is an extremely important part of the Gospel of John as it records Jesus’ last words before He was taken away to be put on trial and crucified.

Of course, the disciples had grown concerned by Jesus’ increasing focus on His death. They still had not grasped or accepted the aspect of Jesus’ resurrection. They were just worried over the prospect of Jesus leaving them and going, in His words, to a place where they could not follow. During His last address to His disciples, Jesus made some crucial remarks on the matter of asking and receiving from God in light of the physical absence of Jesus. Obviously, the disciples (and no one else) would be able to ask Jesus for something face to face and have Him work a miracle in answer to their requests as they likely had grown used to doing.

Jesus anticipated that His disciples would grow sorrowful in His absence, but He promised them that their sorrow would be turned to joy. He explained that this is a part of God’s dealings with mankind. He said, “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.” God specializes in taking sorrowful situations and turning them into joyful ones.

Warren Wiersbe said about this passage, “The principle is simply this: God brings joy to our lives, not by substitution, but by transformation. His illustration of the woman giving birth makes this clear. The same baby that caused the pain also caused the joy. In birth, God does not substitute something else to relieve the mother’s pain. Instead, He uses what is there already but transforms it…The way of substitution for solving problems is the way of immaturity. The way of transformation is the way of faith and maturity. We cannot mature emotionally or spiritually if somebody is always replacing our broken toys.”

The central theme of this passage is that we can live joyful and victorious lives by living prayerful lives.Even though verse 21 is not specifically about prayer, we do often find ourselves in a spirit of prayer when we are faced with sorrowful, painful situations. We have a tendency to turn to God when things are not going as expected. God allows such situations in our lives in order that we may see our need for Him.

As Jesus prepares to leave His disciples, He says, “Ye now therefore have sorrow…” He knew what the disciples would be going through. Rather than rejecting the sorrow that they faced, Jesus lets them know that their sorrow is not a bump in the road, but a part of the path. They had to be put in the fire, tried, and tested, so that they could come out stronger on the other side.

Jesus promises, “But I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice…” The disciples would not always be sorrowful. However, their sorrow would not be removed, instead, it would be turned to joy. The disciples would see the purpose of God through the sorrow and the pain of the crucifixion and their physical separation from the Savior. Charles Spurgeon said, “It is most remarkable and instructive that the apostles do not appear in their sermons or epistles to have spoken of the death of our Lord with any kind of regret. The gospels mention their distress during the actual occurrence of the crucifixion, but after the resurrection, and especially after Pentecost, we hear of no such grief.” The disciples never reflected on past events and said, ‘This period of our walk with Jesus was sorrowful, but the period after that was joyful.’ No, the disciples were able to view the entire period as joyful.

The story is told of a couple who went to the airport to catch their flight. When they arrived at the gate, they were told by an agent to wait to board. So they made their way to a spot in the waiting area and took a seat. They were put to the side but didn’t know why. Other people began boarding and as even more people boarded and time passed, the couple began getting frustrated. They were waiting and didn’t know why. After awhile, they started to get mad. They thought the airline was treating them poorly by making them wait with no explanation and no time frame. Soon, everyone had boarded the plane but them. They were going to be last to board the plane even though they were one of the first passengers to arrive. All kinds of things were going through their minds. “What’s going on here?” “This is not right.” “We were here early!” Finally, their names were called and they were told they could board. The couple walked down the aisle and looked at their boarding passes to find their seating location. Unbeknownst to them, they had been upgraded to first class! All of a sudden sorrow became laughter and sadness became joy. They had been bumped up from coach to first class. They no longer thought the wait they had endured was a bad experience. They had waited and received something better than they expected.

Jesus told His disciples that when their sorrow had passed, “Your heart shall rejoice, and and your joy no man taketh from you.” When the terrible events of the crucifixion were wrapped up in the wonderful events of the resurrection and ascension, the disciples would forget all about the sorrow they had felt at the prospect of Jesus’ death. God would have changed the whole situation to something good — sorrow to joy, mourning to dancing, tears to laughter, death to life.

That is also what God does for us through prayer. When we go to God in the midst of our sorrowful situations, He takes those situations, sustains us through them, and ensures that the outcome is for our good. When we look back on the difficulties that we face — if we face them hand-in-hand with God — we will think of them as joyful experiences, not sorrowful ones.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.


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