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May 22, 2020 (Friday) - Mourning Into Dancing - A Reflection on John 16:20-23

Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

Do you know David? Of course you do. He was the second king of Israel who followed Saul to the throne. He was a great ruler, tough but fair, but his life was beset with problems. Some of them were of his own making — like that stuff he pulled with Bathsheba. But others were not. For instance, he incurred the jealousy of Saul, who became hell bent on killing David, and David spent many years of his life on the run. His burdens were so heavy, there were times he wept all night. It’s not the kind of thing you’d imagine David doing, but grown men do cry.

Then, one day, David humbled himself and asked God to be gracious and hear his cry for mercy. Not long after this, David would write some of my most favorite words in Scripture. He would write: “You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever” (Psalm 30:11-12). Lovely, yes? I was reminded of this when Jesus was telling his apostles of his impending Passion, and the pain they would feel, but not to be too disturbed because the pain would soon turn to joy.

We all go through a lot of pain in life, and nowadays there seems to be a surfeit of it. There is not a day that goes by without someone sharing a story of a negligent spouse, a tyrannical parent, a wayward child; or a serious financial crisis, the death of a dear one, a severe sickness. Now, we can become absorbed in the emotions we feel: anger, fear, worry, dread. Or we can commit the situation to God, as David did, confident that God can change any situation, and give us victory regardless of the enormity of the challenges we face.

I mean, just think about Jesus on his way to the cross, ok? Taken to a courtyard and scourged. Taken to a dungeon and crowned with thorns. Taken to the gates of the city and given a cross to carry. Taken to the top of a hill and crucified. Isn’t this a story of failure; of defeat? The thief on the cross next to him spoke for so many of us when he said, “You saved so many people; can’t you save yourself? Loser!” And he died, and the world rejoiced, just as Jesus said  they would. But three days later he was resurrected in the greatest comeback story of all time. And the hearts of all those who believed were filled with joy, again just as Jesus said they would.

Now, do you believe? If you do, listen to what Jesus says today: Ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it you. And he will turn your mourning into dancing.

God bless you.