John 16:19-22

Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, "Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, 'In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me'? Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

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 that 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 wrote some of my 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? These words beautifully echo Jesus' promise to his disciples in this passage that their grief will turn to joy.

We all go through a lot of pain in life, and nowadays, there is 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, a severe financial crisis, the death of a dear one, or a severe sickness. Now, we can become absorbed in our emotions: 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 our challenges. As Jesus says in John 16:33, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

I mean, think about Jesus on his way to the cross! 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 beside him spoke for so many of us when he said, "You saved so many people; can't you save yourself? Loser!" He died, and the world rejoiced, just as Jesus said they would. However, three days later, he was resurrected in the most remarkable comeback story of all time. And the hearts of all those who believed were filled with joy, again just as Jesus said they would.

As we reflect on this passage, let's ask ourselves: What sorrows or griefs am I carrying today? How can I, like David, humble myself and cry out to God for mercy and grace? How does the promise of Jesus' resurrection and the coming joy give me hope in the midst of my pain?

May we trust in the promise that our sorrow will turn to joy, and may we find our strength in Christ, who has overcome the world.

God bless you.

More in this category: « John 16:16-18 John 16:23-24 »
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