What is coming MATTERS!
I remember the scene like it was yesterday. We were in the labor and delivery room for our first baby. As we all know, when it comes to our “first” anything, we are clueless. I had listened to the doctor tell me to stay at home till I could no longer stand the pain. At that point, I was to come to the hospital. Mistake number 1.
Who wants to move around when they are in excruciating pain?! That was NOT the time to shuffle to the car and drive to the hospital, walking down long corridors looking for triage. Nevertheless, that’s what we did.
Then I spent way too long checking into triage before they moved me to labor and delivery. This delayed my ability to ask for the epidural I had been so eager to receive. Mistake number 2.
After finally getting to the labor and delivery room, I enthusiastically asked for the “epidural man” to come pay me a visit. The waiting process began. We waited and waited with the pain steadily increasing. No man in sight. I was getting scared and peeved all at the same time. Since this was my first baby, I didn’t know what to expect so I subsequently began to fear the worst. What if I didn’t get it in time? Then what?! Mistake number 3.
I distinctly remember asking Kyle to open the door of our room and look down the hall to see if the “epidural man” was coming. Kyle, not realizing the volatility of the situation, laughingly responded, “What on earth for?” Mistake number 4.
I screamed at him, “Because if I can just know he is on his way, that will help me to make it through this awful part now!!!”Hope makes a difference! #endurance #strength Click To Tweet
That day, I learned how hope can get me through more than I can endure on my own!
Good News For The Bad News
Listening to Jesus in the hours before His arrest, He prepares His disciples with honest expectations but also with the hope they will need to endure it.
20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 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. 22 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 16:20-22
During one of the most trying seasons of my life, God showed me how my own unrealistic expectations were making my grief more unbearable. Although I had no control over my trials, I was making it worse by expecting life to be “trouble-free” as a norm. He quickly corrected my view by reminding me that trouble IS the norm, this side of heaven. John 16:33 says,
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Though trouble may await us, it isn’t the last word on our story. God gives us something to hold fast too so that we are able to endure. Our grief has limits. Yes, we will grieve at times, but our grief will eventually turn to joy. This, my friends, makes a world of difference!By God's grace, our grief has limits. It is only a matter of time before it will turn to joy. Click To Tweet
For the joy set before us…….
Just as I needed to know that relief was on its way for my pain during childbirth, hope helped Jesus endure His pain until joy became His reality. This knowledge strengthens us to face what we would most want to avoid.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
What a precious privilege we have as the Bible shares what was going through the mind of Christ in His worst moments on Calvary. Jesus was thinking about the joy that awaited Him -when He would reunite with His Father, when He would return to heaven, when sin and death would be vanquished forever, how a lost and dying world would be forever redeemed, how love would ultimately triumph, and a million others victories that were waiting on the other side of grief.
For the joy set before Him, He was able to endure …… and so can you and I.
At some of the times of my suffering, I have not always been able to envision the joy on the other side. But now, oh my word, now that I have seen God work through heartache and suffering, I KNOW!
I have seen how He takes our pain and works it in miraculous ways, bringing about good that seemed impossible. Grief has taught me to look in faith for what God offers on the other side- joy, as ONLY God can bring.
The Promise of Joy After Grief
For the disciples, Jesus was preparing them for the devastating events about to take place when He would be arrested, tried and crucified. They had no way of comprehending how quickly out of control their lives would spiral. He told them that they would grieve as the world rejoiced over the coming events but that afterward, their grief would turn to joy.
Here are 3 reasons why their grief would turn to joy.
- Their perspective was about to change. With Jesus resurrected, everything changed! What they had thought was tragic was actually prophetic. Their worst-case scenario changed into a hope-filled future for mankind. Instead of grieving at Christ on the cross, they could exalt His work through it. They could rejoice this side of heaven because of God working miracles IN SPITE OF grief.
- Their place was secured. What Jesus accomplished on that horrifying night would forever secure their future in heaven with Him. No matter what happened to them on earth, their ultimate destination was in heaven where there is unspeakable joy forever and ever. They could rejoice because one day, heaven would be THEIR home.
- Their world would change because of their grief. God would use what had grieved them in countless ways to benefit others. Through their heartache, the hearts of others would be changed for the better. They could rejoice because others would enter heaven because of them.
What This Can Mean For Us
Looking at my own grief in life, I have seen how God redeemed hopeless circumstances, helpless people, and harmful patterns. What I have been most unable to stop that caused me grief has really ended up helping me. A recent example is how God used painful relationships to reveal my own harmful interrelational patterns. My tendency to people-please, to be over-responsible or fearful have not served me well in life. I would have never been able to break free from those dysfunctional patterns had God not allowed the grief that forced me to change.
I am experiencing joy today because of the grief I experienced in my yesterdays. God did not change my circumstances but even better, He changed me through them. I enjoy freedom, peace, and confidence in Christ like never before. For that, I rejoice!
Not long ago, a question was asked in our church discipleship group, “What do you feel hopeless about?” I sat there for a few minutes until I realized that nothing makes me feel hopeless because I have learned how God redeems what breaks us. I don’t fear what I used to fear. I’m fundamentally different now and it is because of my brokenness. Therefore, my joy is a tangible reality due to my past grief. I am STILL reaping a reward from it!
Friends, He still performs miracles and the best ones can be IN us rather than FOR us. Instead of fearing brokenness, we can see it as a means of transforming lives to a greater degree than otherwise possible. That is a constant reminder to us of the joy waiting on the other side of grief. Whether this side of heaven or the other, joy is guaranteed!