“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”(John 16:20-23)
As Jesus approached his crucifixion, he tried to help his disciples with this sort of confusion. He knew that they would be faced with a huge challenge when they saw him die on the cross. To prepare them, he explained that this was part of the great story that he had called them into. They would experience wrenching grief, and they would feel out of step with the rest of the world. But that wouldn’t be the final chapter. Their grief would be turned to joy, and the story would take on a whole new meaning.
While the disciples had to wrestle through the grief of Jesus’ death, you and I have come in later in the plot. We know about Jesus’ resurrection! If you can try to center our life in Jesus’ victory, you’ll know a joy, a stability, and a peace that nothing in this world can take away from you.
But at times we lose sight of God’s story. We forget that our joy comes from Jesus’ salvation, not from the story that the world offers us. Losing focus, we can begin to lose our trust that God is with us. That’s why we need to immerse ourselves every day in the story of the Scriptures. We need God’s word to sharpen our focus.
True joy – everlasting joy– comes only through a deep connection with our God, one built on and sustained by a deep reservoir of prayer. If we don’t remember who we are and who we belong to, we can be pulled off course by any flash in the pan, but that’s not what brings true joy; only true faith can provide that.
True faith requires work on our part. It is not simply prayer, nor is simply studying the word of God. It is both of those combined with living out and standing up for our faith. At times, in today’s world, that seems as if it’s a daunting task. But his disciples lived and taught their faith even to the point of martyrs’ deaths. Against that, can standing up for our faith, living out our beliefs, stepping away from our egos and occasional self-pity, is any of that harder than our Christian forefathers bore? Any harder than the Christians who died in the death camps of Nazi Germany for their faith and their attempt at saving their Jewish friends and neighbors? Any harder than today’s Christians in the Middle East who, as recently as yesterday, are martyred on the streets for their faith?
His word, our prayer, our lives combined with one eternal and immoveable reality. Jesus is always with us. Today Jesus is certain to come to us. Never forget that you are part of an epic story. You are one of the “great cloud of witnesses” whose lives have been changed by the Lord (Hebrews 12:1). You aren’t just a passive observer; you’re an active participant. You have a role to play today in moving this story forward.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord, I surrender my anguish and burdens to You. I unite them to Your Cross and trust that You will be there in all things walking with me through my life. May I keep my eyes on the goal and rejoice in Your steadfast love. Jesus, I trust in You.”
Jesus wants his disciples to know and believe that after the difficult days of his crucifixion and death, new life will come forth for them. Jesus also wants us to know and believe that after our difficult days, we also will experience new life. Once again, we will see him and experience His presence with us. We will be able to rejoice when Jesus gifts us with new life and hope.