Sorrow Turned to JoyFr. Barnabas Powell
How swiftly Holy Week approaches! Just days away from the end of Great Lent and the beginning of our daily walk with Christ during His final hours before He enters into battle with death; a battle we know He wins!
So, in our Genesis readings we shift from reading about Jacob to Joseph; that First Testament icon of our Lord Jesus. Joseph was envied by his brothers, and they sold him as a slave to the Egyptians. Years later the brothers discover an amazing truth. See this: “Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.” Genesis 45:3-5
Only God sees the end from the beginning. Even the evil one, insightful and shrewd as he may be, cannot see the future as God sees it. Only God sees every possible outcome of every possible decision or action we take. Only God knows that even that which was meant to destroy you holds the potential to bring you great joy.
Today, as we run to Holy Week, we go there knowing the sorrow faced by the disciples will soon turn to unbelievable joy.
But what was true in the life of Joseph, what was true of the followers of our Lord Jesus before His life-giving death, is also true for us today. Though we don’t yet see it in our current circumstances, we, too, can see what appears to be tragedy turn to great joy. This is why we face life with hope and not despair, with joy and not sorrow, with love and not fear. Our God sees beyond the moment to the multitude of spiritual fruit on the other side of our struggles. In fact, it is the powerful message of the Resurrection that always informs every aspect of a believer’s life. It is the very sure knowledge of the Resurrection that transforms every difficult time in our lives to hope. Some may call this wishful thinking, but I call it faith.
Today, the message of the Church, the theology of the Church, the practices of the Church, are all set at your side as practical tools to transform your daily life into an example of a life lived in the hope of the Resurrection. All these spiritual tools are set open before you, waiting for your courage, your will, to reach out and take them and be transformed by them. They are practical, available, and effective, and all you have to do is reach out and take them up in the confidence that what God has always done before He will do again. He is the only Lover of Mankind, and He walks His final hours on earth filled with the confidence and hope He longs to share with you today.
Today, right now, embrace the tools of the faith; prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and let us go with Christ to Lazarus’ tomb for just a foretaste of the victory Christ is about to win over that ancient enemy – death. And let us remember that what the evil one means to destroy us is always pregnant with hope and filled with the potential to do just the opposite. If only we will.