The Cost of Joy

“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”— John 16:20 Joy is costly.

Joy is not a mere moment of happy feelings, but the result of a transformed life. To know real joy is most likely to have known sorrow, loss, and grief.

Why? Sometimes we lose something precious or difficult to let go of, and discover in that heartache the secret of joy. The grief of loneliness or loss can give way to the joy of God’s presence or the joy of becoming part of God’s people.

Jesus did not say, “Your grief will be replaced by joy.”

He said your grief will be turned into joy. The process is not easy. It can be painful. A woman who has given birth knows that the same baby that caused her so much pain is also the source of tremendous joy.

Joy is never the result of a substitute for what hurts you. A new car, new relationship, new house, new job can’t fix what’s wrong. Joy is not the result of a change of circumstances, but of a transformation of the heart. We can’t mature emotionally or spiritually if someone is always replacing our broken toys. We can only know joy when Jesus becomes real to us and we know the power of His resurrection in our lives. The early disciples learned that the sorrow of crucifixion is transformed into the joy of resurrection – because a radical change in the order of things took place in the universe.

As I said, this is not easy. I don’t say it lightly.

And sometimes we need to see joy for what it is.

C.S. Lewis said, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.”1

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” —Psalm 30:5


  1. Lewis, C.S., and Hooper, Walter, Readings for Meditation and Reflection: Readings for Meditation and Reflection, (HarperCollins, 1996), p. 35.