Monday, May 11

Grief will turn to joy

“You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you will have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy” (John 16:20-22).

Jesus was never afraid to tell it like it is. He predicted his own sufferings. Then he predicted his disciples’ sufferings. These were folks who had spent a remarkable three or so years together. They had made memories. Now their world was about to change. Pain was coming. Grief. Big pain.

God seems to have a high pain tolerance for his children. Most parents can hardly stand seeing their children suffer. Not God. He is not very codependent. Adam and Eve got no second chances. One strike and they were out. Plus, Eve would have pain in childbearing, Adam would have agonizing work, and their honeymoon in the garden turned into a drawn out power struggle. If that, and the rest of Old Testament history, is all there was to the story then God would seem awfully harsh.

But God’s goal is always ultimate joy. He gives meaning to our suffering. He teaches us through painful experiences things we might never learn otherwise. He recruits his brave Christ-followers to join in giving birth to a new creation, not just through church activity but more decisively in the daily grind of making a life and the nitty-gritty of parenting. Parenting teaches us much about pain and joy, because both are always a part of invested, bonded relationships. But as sure as Jesus’ resurrection followed his suffering and death, so sure will the griefs of this age yield to joy, when God is invited in.

Prayer: Lord, help me appreciate what you are teaching me in the hard days. Thank you for being with me in painful moments, even when I am not at my best. May your forgiveness and reconciliation help me and my people return to joy again and again. Sustain us now with the joy of your Holy Spirit, until we see you face to face, when nothing will be able to take our joy away.