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I tell you for certain that you will cry and be sad, but the world will be happy. You will be sad, but later you will be happy. John 16:20 (CEV)

I’ve never had the opportunity to travel to a foreign country. The only ‘culture’ I’ve had to learn to adjust to is limited to regional differences on how we talk or ‘traditions’. I know several people who have been able to live for a short time in a different country however.

One of my friends spent a year overseas. She knew the language of this country from four years of high school, but never had the opportunity to learn to speak this language conversationally. Those of you who have been in this situation know what she told me. She was met with two challenges upon her arrival. One was that classroom language learning and conversational languages can be similar but also completely different.

Her second challenge was two-fold. Most people she approached her first few weeks could fit in one of two categories. Either they took the stance of ‘Learn my language’ and mocked her, or they saw an opportunity to learn her language and so spoke only in English. Neither position was very helpful to my friend. Her first few weeks in this foreign country were confusing, frustrating and humiliating.

When Jesus is preparing his disciples for his own departure from the world he warns them of the attitudes that they would find in their future. During those times of grief and mourning, the world would rejoice. During times of sadness, those around them would be happy.

Jesus words held an immediate meaning for the disciples and a future meaning for us. If we are followers of Jesus Christ and fully committed to the Word of God and his standards, then what we see in our world should have a profound effect on our attitudes. We don’t need to go far or listen long to hear people praise sinful lifestyles and actions. Many are rejoicing because their cause is finally being heard and fairness is on the way.

The problem is, they are rejoicing over the very things that make God sad; finding joy in the very things that anger God. We as disciples of Jesus Christ must find a middle ground in which we are deeply saddened to the point of mourning for the sin that surrounds us. We must begin with our own lives and allow God’s Spirit to work within us to cleanse us. Then we must learn to love those who we disagree with while taking a stand against what grieves God.

When my friend returned to her homeland she was glad to be home where everything was familiar, but she never regretted the time oversees in spite of the mourning and frustration. Jesus promises us that our mourning will turn to dancing. It may not be until heaven, but we will dance with joy for eternity then!

PRAYER: Father God. I look around me and see the travesty we have made of your word. We’ve sinned against you Lord. We’ve sinned by following ways we know are wrong. We’ve sinned by becoming stagnant. We look forward to the joy before us and ask for wisdom while we travel this foreign land. Amen.

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February 2023
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