SCRIPTURE: John 16:16-24
Sorrow Will Turn into Joy
16 “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 Then some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying to us, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They said, “What does he mean by this ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’? 20 Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. 22 So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.
Gerald L. Borchert shares his observations on this passage that “Time is a difficult factor for humans to integrate fully into their understanding of the perspectives of God. It was no different with the disciples. Jesus was somehow able to stand above time as he did when he told the Jews ‘before Abraham was I am’ (8:58). That statement for mere humans was not only illogical but bordered on being for the Jews both sacrilegious and crazy. In this section the discussion is not quite so radical, but it created for the disciples a sense of complete bewilderment that necessitated an extended explanation from Jesus that reaches beyond this current segment.”
I have to admit that I chose Borchert’s words immediately after reading the first sentence. In this time of sheltering-at-home and social distancing I often find myself completely lost as to just what day it actually is, needing to check my phone so I know what day of the week we are on. Time has become an even more challenging factor for humanity in our everyday lives, let alone in relationship to our understanding of the perspectives of God. But one of the best messages that I pull from this passage in regard to time, is that God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, as the Holy Trinity, have always been. And because those three have always existed, they have been with humanity throughout our entire existence, walking alongside us every second of every day. That brings me a strong sense of comfort, as I then also trust that they walk with us now in this strange and uncertain time of the pandemic and will walk with us after the pandemic has passed.
How has time been a major or minor factor in your life, either over your entire life or even just during this time of pandemic? Do you find yourself obsessing over time, or is it something that you are aware of but do not focus on very much? How do your answers to those questions integrate, or not, in your understanding of God and time?
Great I Am, God of all time and space, we thank you for your faithfulness to walk alongside us in our lives. We know that you see all-time at once – past, present, and future. Help us to trust in you that no matter what has happened in our lives Jesus’ love offers us forgiveness. Help us to trust in you that no matter what is going on in our lives right now you are there with us. And help us to trust in you that no matter what the future will bring, your love and grace surpasses all time. Amen.