The longer I journey through life, the more aware I become that nearly everyone has endured sorrow, pain, or loss—in ways frequently hidden from the rest of the world. But those things aren’t the end of our story. Rather, we have a glorious hope found in the goodness of God.
One of the most magnificent assurances in Scripture is that God works all things for our good. As Christians, most of us have an intellectual understanding of this, but God wants it to be a living, breathing truth in our lives. It’s a bedrock promise reflecting His nature—that HE is always good and always kind. It’s an assurance we can rest in during the hardest of times. He redeems all things, and He gives joy in the place of mourning.
So what is our role in this process? One key element is the choice to trust in Him and hold fast to the truth His word reveals.
Psalm 84:5-7 says:
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca [valley of weeping or lamentation], they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools [blessings]. They go from strength to strength till each appears before God in Zion.
We make the choice to set our hearts and minds on God, on the unseen and eternal (Colossians 3:2) and to remember we’re on a pilgrimage in this world. There’s a promise that as we do so, God Himself will supply strength and He will transform the very places of sorrow and suffering into springs which give life and pools of blessing for us and those around us.
Shortly before I was healed, The Lord reminded me of a passage from Hinds Feet on High Places (an allegory I read many times through my childhood and teen years). In the book, the protagonist Much-Afraid accepts the invitation of the Shepherd to journey up to the High Places. He promises to give her companions to accompany her, and she’s delighted—until her companions turn out to be Sorrow and Suffering. But when she finally reaches the High Places, not only is she herself transformed from Much-Afraid into Grace and Glory, but Sorrow and Suffering are transformed into Joy and Peace.
Obviously, this is a concept found throughout Scripture. But in this case, God reminded me of it afresh through story. He offered the reassurance that He was working this in my life, even when there was no evident manifestation at the time—and that I was to keep my focus and attention on Him, on His nature, and what He was speaking and doing.
While I saw a manifestation of this process a few months later (albeit after many years of waiting), the transformation of joy to sorrow doesn’t always happen quickly. It doesn’t always happen in a way we readily perceive or in the way we would choose. But it always happens. On that, Scripture is clear.
Further, it’s in the place of trial and difficulty that God opens doors of hope and restoration, as illustrated in Hosea 2:14-15:
Therefore, I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor [trouble] a door of hope.
These Scriptures provide fuel for great hope, and there are so many more. Isaiah 61:3, Psalms 126, Psalms 30:5, Matthew 5:4, and countless others address this topic.
If you’re in a difficult season, reflect on these Scriptures. Ask the Holy Spirit to breathe life on them, to make them living reality in your soul. He will be faithful to strengthen you and impart joy, even in the midst of trouble.
I’d love to hear your stories of how God redeemed difficult situations and brought joy in the place of sorrow. If you’ve experienced this, please share!