Lenten Devotional

March 26, 2020

All Day

Category: Lenten Devotional

Sorrow to Joy

Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” At this, some of his disciples said to one another,

 “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?”

They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.” 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” (John 16:16-22).

Reading this passage, I ponder whether Jesus really wanted his disciples to have a glimpse of things to come. Isn’t it challenging to think that he wanted his disciples to consider the future instead of enjoying the present with the master they loved and honoured? Had I been with the disciples in those days, I would certainly have asked the same questions about what Jesus meant.

Does the image of a woman in the pain of childbirth give me hope for a promising future? I would be disillusioned, maybe even afraid, not able to endure the time of disappointment, pain and even humiliation. What quality of character would I need, and would the disciples have needed in order to be ready to carry the burden of coming difficulties?

We can compare the scene with Jesus and the disciples to a group of knights and loyal servants gathered around their king. The king announces that he is going to another part of the empire where he is urgently needed and asks his people to remain in their positions and to do their work well until he returns. The followers of the king will be “left” for a while with the hope of the king’s return.

When we claim to believe in the promises of Jesus Christ and that we want to live according to his teachings, what does that mean for our present lives? Passively waiting for his return? Spending our time on as many activities as possible? Trying to be as successful as possible in our jobs? Collecting as many awards as possible in our studies, sports or culture? Hardly!

Obviously, Jesus did not only expect his disciples to hope for an abstract idea that would be fulfilled in a faraway future, but, we too, are called to set our hope on something more significant than what our busy lifestyles represent. 

I may not be in a position to give a definite answer. Instead, I pose some questions and hope that we all can find answers for ourselves:

  • What do we hope for?
  • What do we regard as the most important person, project or thing in our lives?
  • Do we really believe in the promises of God?
  • Do we trust in God?
  • Are we ready to invest our lives in God and in the people around us?
  • What does God want to see in us? Our thankfulness?
  • What is our relationship with God like? Are we worried that we don’t do enough?
  • What does God want from us? Perhaps to listen to him carefully?