Our Son Caleb, 2-Days of Age - Sydney, Australia
In January 2004, just a month before our son Caleb was born, the ladies in Liberty Baptist Church of Sydney Australia, held a baby shower for me. Of such an occasion, this was a first experience and a real blessing. My daughter Belinda is now twenty-seven, and baby showers were unheard of when I was a younger mother.
A few ladies gave a five-minute talk on Godly wisdom and instructions for bringing up children, as well as their own personal walk and life experiences. We had some fun games, Bible verses, good food and lots of laughs. I gave a short testimony; I truly love to give my testimony. It excites me every time I think about it and is a reminder to me that the past does not equal the future. It is also a reminder of where I came from and God’s incredible grace and love. When I think of how Christ changed my life 180-degrees, He has truly worked a Red Sea Miracle.
You see, there had been enormous sorrow in my heart for my grown girls - Belinda and Alison; regret for not training them up in the ways of the Lord, guilt for a life of self-indulgence, and sorrow for the bad choices that affected and tainted my girl’s minds. I carried deep helplessness for the inability to change the past. Then, through meditating on God’s Word, pouring my heart out in persistent prayer, and surrendering it all to God - the scales were removed from my eyes.
My testimony in 2004 went something like this;
I have learned to open my spiritual ears. I have learned the secret to real joy and this year I gave birth to my sorrow.
Jesus was just a few hours away from going to Calvary and trying to prepare His disciples for the inevitable. In John 16, we read of Him trying to prepare His disciples for their sorrow. The reason for the world’s happiness during Christ’s death was the very reason for the disciples’ sadness. But…the tables will turn. When Christ comes again, the world will be in sorrow and we will be happy!
To understand the whole purpose of us coming into this world - will turn our sorrow into joy.
Illustration: Some of us understand childbirth, the associated pain, the discomfort, etc. Then, the baby is delivered and it is amazing how there is almost a euphoria – sorrow into joy.
Jesus said, that’s how you turn your sorrow into joy. This is the fruit of sorrow. So much time is wasted on un-birthed sorrow. Sorrow needs to come to full term. Sorrow is a seed that produces either bitterness or gladness. We must harvest the fruits of our labor. We must reap the full time production of our sorrow. We waste a lot of joy if we don’t bring the child to full term.
A premature baby comes with respiratory and intestinal problems; we have perpetual disappointment, perpetual grief, perpetual affliction, perpetual pain, perpetual annoyance, perpetual grudges and perpetual depression – all are the same word for sorrow. People that are constantly depressed do not bring their sorrow to full term. The happiest people are people that have learned to let sorrow produce joy. You can’t manufacture joy unless you have used the produce of sorrow. Joy must come through travail. There are 155 references of joy in the bible. Godly joy is through sorrow.
Talk to a young women that has aborted her baby, and you see and hear the remorse. There is anguish and emotional pain – there is no joy! Go to an abortion clinic and see how many women are laughing. Many doctors have turned away from that evil practice because of the guilt and shame.
Sorrow either turns in to grief, remorse, and repulsion or, you find joy despite your circumstances. How do you do that?
Too often the mind serves only the purpose of devising excuses for doing what the heart really wants to do. The heart needs to be first cleansed, and then kept on the leash of discipline.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22-25
Sorrow never completes its course through self-pity. We nurse old wounds that were not allowed to heal properly. Our problems fester when we don’t let them go. It’s time for that sorrow to bring forth fruit. We have to deal with old wounds.
For me, my regrets brought deep sorrow. The girls were gone and the daily reminders of not nurturing them disturbed me. I clung even closer to God and joy did come through travail. The past does not equal the future. At 44-years of age, I miraculously fell pregnant. It was a blessing from God Almighty, and a second chance to make things right and give birth to my sorrow.
Every time Caleb moved within me, I was reminded of the fruits of my sorrow. Yes, my sorrow did produce fruit and every time I kneel before God, my tender heart pours tears of joy.
I had no idea I was going to speak at the baby shower. I went to listen but I felt that inner voice, that tug of the Holy Spirit and I knew what I shared was to be a blessing to someone. I fought back the tears and when it was over, it became apparent I was not alone. It never ceases to amaze me just how incredible our Good Shepherd is. I pray every day that God would count me worthy of His miracles big and small. That He would place me in the right place at the right time to do His perfect will. My suffering has been unique – my response has been even more preciously unique through God’s grace. I now have a deeper abiding daily walk with Him.
I ask myself this question often; “Through my loss, do people see the presence of Christ in my life?” Just like Mary Magdalene, I want to stay true to Jesus. Those with cleaner pasts fled during Jesus Death and Resurrection. She was faithful all the way through.
I have endured some difficult battles and trials during my life. My toughness during these trials has been the greatest lesson for me. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, I yearn to develop an unfeigned faith.
How can God turn your sorrow into joy?
1. Know Your Enemy
Satan wants more than anything to destroy us. Just like Goliath, Satan has killer instincts and his warriors are well armed, experienced and show no mercy. His focus is on your destruction, on taking what is yours. Satan will destroy us inside and out by feeding us one lie after another until we are robbed of our energy, our joy of life, and our purpose for existence. He will cause us to be discontent. Discontentment is an “out-of-control” mindset. He will rob us of our wisdom and sound approach to life. Satan makes us believe that somehow life hasn’t given us what we have coming to us, and that life has treated us unfairly. He inspires within us every form of jealousy, resentment and selfish ambition. Discontentment is a giant---subtle---but he’s every bit as deadly as Goliath was. We cannot negotiate nor avoid him, but we CAN be victorious in our battles with Satan and his warriors. I have given this great attention.
In our society, we water down the forces of good and evil that not only is revealed to us through God’s Word, but will exist until Christ’s return. The grand finale, the final showdown is yet to come and we cannot water down or ignore this if we are to be truly victorious and fight the battles with finality.
2. Know the Heart of God
By reading God’s Word, we grow to know Him and what is important to Him - not us! Seek that which glorifies Him. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:11
What makes me happy is totally different to what makes God happy.
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-16
3. Know the Holy Spirit
He shows us God’s heart and helps us to know who the Lord is. Don’t quench the Spirit with those secret sins or iniquities. It could be inconsistencies in our lives, where we are prone to weakness and giving in on important issues that DO have a long-term impact. The Holy Spirits job is to condemn and convict us – Do right, don’t do wrong! He gives us commands and orders. “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” James 4:17
4. Know the Holy Spirit will Lead to Submission
This is a desire in submitting to a fear of God and a desire to submit to His headship. For an unmarried lady, this would be your father and your pastor. For a married lady, this is our husband and our Pastor. For those who work, it may be a boss. The desire to submit when our boss instructs us is apparent; you don’t want to loose your job over a rebellious spirit. Yet, too often in the home, women can be rebellious to the bone with their husbands.
5. Know the Traps in Your Mind
We must have ready at all times; forgiveness, forbearance, tolerance and patience - not just to others but to ourselves. Don’t beat yourself up! It knocks us off the path if we continue being personally destructive. We get impatient with others and we can’t wait to let someone else know. Be willing to overlook others faults (forbearance). It takes away anger, bitterness and discord and keeps us from being trapped in our minds.
6. Know the Joy of Laboring in The Lord
Is your laboring for the Lord joyous or drudgery? Instead of an attitude in the home of “Oh no, another day” try “Praise God, I have this child to train up”. Be a co-laborer. God always has something for us to do. We are to be enjoying the abundant life. “And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” John 17:13
Have a joy that shines.
“And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour.” Ecclesiastes 2:10
Get excited about what God wants you to do and don’t focus on the little cracks.
7. Know Your Friends
Who you hang around with is who you become. It could be a relative, wrong Christian friend or a work colleague who often brings the worst out in you. Ask yourself, “Are they influencing me to serve God or are they influencing me away from God?” Walk with the wise. “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Proverbs 13:20
Reach out to positive, faith orientated, growing Christians who encourage you to want to serve Him more. People can poison you. Don’t listen to negative things that will get you down. Be careful who influences you – especially relatives. Don’t have a bad word to say about anyone!
8. Know What You Learn – You Teach
This simply means; if you are taking the Bible in you need to be putting the Word out. Don’t be a stream that requires the rain to fill, be a spring rising up from under a lake. Don’t stagnate and get dirty. We need to be like a spring of living water constantly having input and an outgoing.
Have daily personal devotions; listen to preaching CD’s, read godly books that build your faith. PUT IT OUT! Older women are to be teaching the younger women. Timothy learned from his mother and grandmother. We never get to a point where we stop giving out. Have a teachable spirit with a constant desire to grown in the Lord. Seek daily wisdom by constantly looking in His Word. Remember, no pressure – no growth! The purpose of growth is for us to help someone else to grow. Surrender to the Lord! Yes it can be scary and intimidating, but God will work on your heart and ways you can grow. God does not want us to stagnate. He enables us to do what He commands us to do. He wants us to have that constant learning and teaching – that constant spring of living water.
9. Know What God Can Do In Our Lives
We often look at our track record and despair, but remember God’s timing is always perfect. We must learn to trust God completely, and along our journey we must learn the process of gaining faith. Through trials and trouble, keep serving God. Don’t blame Satan. Job did not blame anyone. God allows the suffering. We must go forward with the hope that it is all part of God’s plan. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
We never stop learning in the Christian life!
Learn to love the choices God made for you - Whether it is your family, siblings, neighbors or even the way God formed YOU.
Learn to love the choices you make for God - Don’t abuse Him with your life by feeding in the devil’s trashcan. Your Salvation was the choice you made – rejoice every day!
Learn to love the people that God has placed on the journey with you – It’s easier to love the missionary than a fellow Christian or the unknown rather than the co-worker. Sometimes we would rather live in agreement of hell than rise on higher ground. Learn to love them!
Learn to love the circumstances that God has you in – In our condition, we must be a demonstration of the love of God. We ALL have a part in choices. Carry yourself with a Spirit of Dignity that is a reminder of the Glorious Lord.
Prepare for what lays ahead. Our Christian walk will always fall into three categories. You have just come through a trial, you are just about to go through a trial or you are right in the middle of one. That’s how He removes the dross and builds the trust factor.
His Word gives us plain practical advice. Survive life by the formula Jesus Christ gave us. His life was filled with incredible peaks and valleys. He set joy before Him by conquering death. Set some joy before you so you can endure your valley. We are running a race. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” Hebrews 12:1
God’s blessings are in abundance as we surrender to Him.
I Love You,