A Time to Weep and a Time to Laugh

There is "a time to weep and a time to laugh" (Ecclesiastes 3:4). We are to "rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15).

I have wept much lately. So many bad things are happening. So many people are hurting. So many children are homeless, hungry and afraid. More than twenty million people are living in refugee camps throughout the world. Once media attention dies down, help diminishes. Many are widows and orphans. Often they do not know if their loved ones are dead or alive. Sometimes they do know what happened to their children or husbands or wives, who died a horrible death.

Most of this suffering is 'man-made'. Only a small part is caused by natural disasters.

Are you willing to weep with those who weep?

Jesus wept when He thought of the suffering and destruction that would come on Jerusalem, the City of Peace. "And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying, 'Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes'" (Luke 19:41,42 RSV). "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" (Matthew 23:37).

The people of Jerusalem wanted peace. But they did not know what brings peace. Because of rebelliousness, their city would be destroyed.

There is a time to weep. Jesus wept when His friend Lazarus died. "Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, 'Where have you laid him?' They said to Him, 'Lord, come and see.' Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, 'See how He loved him!'" (John 11:33-36).

Jesus' friends would soon be weeping outside His tomb. "Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' She said to them, 'Because they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid Him'" (John 20:11-13).

An angel told the women that Jesus was risen. "And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, 'Rejoice!' And they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, 'Do not be afraid'" (Matthew 28:9,10).

Even in a world of sin and death we can now rejoice in the risen Christ who has conquered sin and death.

Jesus offers forgiveness and joy to those who are sorry for their sins.

"And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil" (Luke 7:37,38).

How do you think this women felt when Jesus turned and said to her: "Your sins are forgiven" (Luke 7:47). Only after we feel remorse for our sins and humble ourselves at the feet of Jesus, can we know the joy of forgiveness and salvation.

"Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you doubleminded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up" (James 4:7-10).

After Peter denied Christ "he went out and wept bitterly" (Matthew 26:75). Fifty days later, filled with the Holy Spirit, he was preaching to those who had crucified Christ, telling them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38).

God and the angels rejoice when one sinner repents and turns to God.

Jesus said: "What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish" (Matthew 18:12-14). "Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:10).

After the resurrection Peter was no longer afraid to confess Christ, even when it endangered his life, because he knew he would live for ever with Jesus. Years later Peter wrote: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:3-7). In chapter four he explains: "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy" (1 Peter 4:12,13).

This was not empty theory. After Peter and the other apostles had been beaten, we read: "So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name" (Acts 5:41).

Jesus had told them: "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:11,12). "Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets" (Luke 6:22,23).

Paul was able to rejoice in the midst of suffering: "as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things" (2 Corinthians 6:10); "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church" (Colossians 1:24).

Christ suffered and died that we might live. Now His body, the church, continues His work -- and shares His suffering -- by making this message of salvation known to all.

Are you willing to share in the suffering of Christ? Are you willing to dedicate your life to serving God and helping others even though you must suffer for the name of Christ?

Paul explains that earthly suffering and joy are temporary. "But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away" (1 Corinthians 6:29-31).

This world is a dark and dismal place when you are without God. But when you become a Christian you know your sins are forgiven and you can rejoice because you will live for ever with God in Christ Jesus. After the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized into Christ "he went on his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:39). After the Philippian jailer was baptized "he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household" (Acts 16:34).

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:1,2). "And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation" (Romans 5:11).

"Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory" (Revelation 19:7).

"Rejoice because your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20).

"Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord" (Philippians 3:1).

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:4-7).

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive