John 16:20 – 24
There are some odd expectations and definitions of the Christian life loose in our society. For instance, some people, by the way they look give the impression that God is opposed to any emotions... except being sour.
Others believe that the one who believes in and follows Jesus should never have a negative emotion. I have heard some go as far as saying that these negative emotions are “sin.” Along with this is an unrealistic meeting of sad and bad things with some sort of forced “joy.”
All this has made it difficult for us to find the proper perspective in understanding that Jesus expected us to have an underlying joy that can never be taken from us. We also must remember that “joy” is the second of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
I. Jesus noted that there would be a time of conflict between what was expected and the circumstances.
“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.” [v 20a]
A. REALITY: what gives the world joy can be a cause for us to weep and mourn.
1. Specifically Jesus was talking about His death and resurrection.
a. Jesus was not telling them it was wrong to weep and mourn. There is a time to be “down” because of the circumstances of life.
b. Jesus was telling them that after that, they would have a time of great joy.
“. . . You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.” [v 20b]
2. There is something about expectations that changes the nature of things, especially grief.
“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.  We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” [1 Thessalonians 4:13 – 14]
a. “Ignorance” is something both Jesus and Paul were addressing.
b. The problem is that we tend to live in the “now.” Really, we have to... but the tendency is to lose sight of what is in the future.
***** It is ok to have negative feelings in response to negative events, if they are in perspective.*****
II. Jesus used an example of extreme pain and extreme joy to illustrate His point.
A. The pain of child birth is natural.
1. REALITY: sometimes there is pain that we can do nothing about.
a. Emotional pain happens in the course of life or as a result of life itself.
1.) The pain of being rejected by someone you love.
2.) The emotional turmoil from a physical trauma, such as the death of a loved one. (80% of marriages were a child dies end in divorce.)
3.) Some people have chemical imbalances. (Some are caused by addictions, some addictions are used to self-medicate.)
4.) Some people suffer from “clinical depression” that are beyond our ability to understand.
b. Sometimes these pains are life long and cannot be appropriately dulled.
2. Joy is an issue that is beyond physical pain.
a. Expectation is something even those in the most pain can understand (the woman giving birth).
1.) It does not lessen the immediate pain BUT...
2.) It does give something to look forward to beyond the immediate.
b. Expectation of a future joy can get us past the “now” and give us a future hope.
1.) Think about it: as good as this life is, there is nothing permanent here for us.
2.) Someday, in the presence of Jesus, there will be no more pain, or sorrow, or suffering, of any kind.
***** Joy is not part of a sequence, it is the consequence of the sorrow. Following Christ does not exempt us from sorrow or cause us to forfeit joy. *****
III. Joy is finally set on the facts and the promises of God.
A. What are the facts Jesus pointed out?
1. Jesus’ resurrection (and the future promise of ours) would give us “wonderful joy.”
2. Anguish would give way to joy in new life.
3. Jesus return would be a cause of rejoicing (a.k.a. “Joy”)
***** Notice that Jesus is the difference, the point of reference, for all our hopes and joys. *****
B. What are the promises Jesus gave us?
1. [v 22] “no one will take away your joy.”
2. Your prayers will be answered, leading to joy.
“Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” [v 24b]
IV. Why is this so hard?
A. Some people chose Jesus as “the lesser of the two evils” over going to hell.
1. “He goes for a miserable life and heaven in the end.” [Garriock]
a. The result is like the child who, when told to sit down declared, “I may be sitting down but on the inside I’m standing up.”
b. We follow Jesus as “slaves” (to sin) and not “sons” (of God).
2. Rather than acquiring the power of living in right relationship to God, we go through the motions as if there were nothing better or else.
B. Understanding that joy is a provision for all of life.
1. Joy give us a whole bunch of things: confidence in prayer, certainty of answered prayer, expectation that God WANTS to give us what is best.
2. Joy becomes, not just the fruit of our relationship with God, it becomes the pivot point for every experience (good or bad) in this life.