“The joy that supersedes even the greatest sorrows is the inheritance of the saints.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – June 25, 2022
Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. John 16:20-22, ESV
My sister is pregnant with her first child and due to deliver any day now. It has been a great joy for our family to walk through the past nine months with her and her husband, hearing their hopes and dreams for their child and their new family of three. As her due date has now drawn near, undoubtedly her thoughts have turned to the difficult journey of childbirth and the unknowns that it brings. And yet, this momentary pain has not caused them to lose sight of the joy of parenthood and family life.
Our Lord Jesus uses this timeless image when speaking of the momentary trials of this life, comparing them to the sorrow and pain of childbirth. Yet in these words, the focus is not on the pain of delivery but instead is entirely placed on the joy of welcoming a child into the world. This joy is so profound that the mother “no longer remembers the anguish” (John 16:21). Commenting on this verse, the early church father, St. John Chrysostom, makes the same observation. “(Jesus) did not just say that the pain will pass away, but, ‘she does not even remember it,’ so great is the joy which succeeds; so also will it be with the saints.”
So also will it be with the saints. Here, St. John invites us into the heart of Christ’s message in this passage; this joy that supersedes even the greatest sorrows is the inheritance of the saints. It is the defining reality of our life with God. Joy will never be drowned by sorrow, pain never so great that our delight in God is snuffed out or overcome. As Jesus reminds us today, his joy is one that can never be taken away.
For you in this moment, these words may feel empty and distant. Perhaps the economic turmoil, public health crisis, or political divisions of our day have left you downcast and disheartened. Or, on a more personal level, relational conflict and interpersonal wounds have left you weary, afraid, or simply numb.
Interestingly, our Lord doesn’t ask us to deny this truth. You have sorrow now, he says. There is no benefit in pretending this isn’t the case or reality of your story. For many of us, this present moment is our moment of childbirth, one in which the pain and sorrow is all we can see. However, the invitation before us is to hold fast to our long range vision, one that sees and believes this is not the end of the story, but is a pain that will give way to a promised joy, for we will see Christ, and our hearts will truly rejoice.
Father, in our moments of pain, give us a vision of the joy that is ours in Christ, and the strength to hold fast to that vision. Amen.
What pain in your life can you apply to the words and vision of joy contained here in John 16?
Andrew Peterson: The Rain Keeps Falling
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