"This too shall pass" is a Persian adage that reflects on the temporary nature of the human condition. Sufi poet Attar records the fable of a powerful king who asked his advisers to create a ring that would make him happy when he was sad. After deliberation, the sages handed him a simple ring with the inscription: "This too shall pass." It had the desired effect to make the king happy when he was sad.
It would help us immensely if we could etch these words on our hearts for those times in our lives when we go through difficult times. And who doesn't? We grieve when we lose a loved one; we feel disappointment and anger (and fear!) when our jobs are terminated; we feel frustrated when trying to break an addiction. However, if experience should have taught us something, it is this: these things pass.
The pain of losing a loved one will eventually subside, and at some point, a new love might fill the void. The disappointment of being let go at a job will eventually fade away and be replaced with joy when we get a better one. The frustration of addiction will turn to triumph once our chains are broken. The trick is not to give in to despondency, discouragement, or despair but to firm our jaw and move forward, remembering that these are not situations that will last beyond a season.
However, the transient nature of things means the reverse is also true. If wearing the ring brought solace to the king when things were terrible, it distressed him when things were good because it served as a reminder that happiness wouldn't last either. It is perhaps the reason why Jesus never wished us happiness. We cannot find the word 'happy' even once in the gospels! Happiness is fleeting. Think about the times when you were happy. How long did they last? Jesus did, however, wish us peace and joy more than a few times because these transcend the situations we face in life, especially when we trust in God because our peace and joy come from him.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you," Jesus said. "I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27). So, no matter the situation, be at peace. Christ is with you. This shall not pass.
May the Spirit be with you.