Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sorrow and Gladness

Both of the following Scriptures were written concerning the Lord Jesus Christ:

Isaiah 53:3
"He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not."
"Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows."
It was said of Him that He was both the "Man of sorrows" and that He was anointed with the "oil of gladness" above all men.  At first that doesn't seem to make any sense to me, especially when I look at my own life.
I have recently been dealing with an extremely painful bout of tennis elbow.  I wouldn't mind it quite so much if I actually played tennis.  In fact, I can't figure out what led to the inflammation of the the tendon in my elbow, but it caused incredible pain until the orthopedic surgeon injected it with steroids.  I am hate to confess to you that I have done my share of complaining about this pain.
My elbow pain was a small "sorrow" in the scope of the history of sorrows.  I don't think I really had much right to complain about it.  There are many people out there who are in much more pain for a much longer time.
Our Lord Jesus lived with sorrow all of His life.  How it must of been for the omnipotent God of the universe to live in a fallen, cursed world and to not be able to heal and to ease the pain of those around Him until He was thirty and began His earthly ministry.  How the sights and sounds of sin around Him must have pierced His heart emotionally, especially knowing He came to take a literal spear in His heart for those very sins!
Yet, the gospels don't portray Christ as a dour, sad man.  We don't hear any tales of His complaints or whining.  The Scriptures speak of Christ being "moved with compassion" at the funeral of the widow's son, where He raised him from the dead.  We read of His tears at Lazarus' grave before He recalled him to life.  But no complaints.  
Only when He entered into Gethsemane did we even see a glimpse of the depths of His sorrow: 
"Then saith He unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with Me."
We know that the exceeding sorrowfulness of His soul resulted in "sweat as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground."  Yet the Scriptures tell us He was anointed with gladness and that "for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross."
As with the rest of His life, He has given us the pattern to follow.  Just as the Lord gave Moses the pattern for the tabernacle -- the earthly temple in which the Lord would dwell for the Jews -- the Lord Jesus is our tabernacle, our pattern and His Holy Spirit now lives in us.  We can look for the joy that is set before us when we encounter sorrow and suffering today.  We can, as did our Lord, seek our Heavenly Father for guidance, counsel and comfort.  We can trust Him that even when our "flesh is weak," His will for our lives is perfect. His way is always, will always be, perfect.
Let us exchange the sorrows of this world for the joys and gladness of the heavenly places where the Lord Jesus has already placed us.  Let us live there and make the choice to "rejoice in the Lord alway, and again, I say rejoice."

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