Today’s reading plan is from John 16: 20-23; Jesus is foretelling His death. And His very words are you will mourn while others are rejoicing. That has to be a delightful conversation, eh? “Hey, you’re going to be in the fetal position questioning life and grieving alone. And others will be dancing on my grave.” That is pretty much what Jesus was saying to His friends.
This is life between comfort and joy. It is shaky. It is painful. It is dark. It is a transition. And it is a journey we all must take. Because if you need comfort, it means there’s some form of pain or hurt.
Have you ever had your world stop? Suddenly the axis of your earth was shaken, and something struck you down. It could have been a death. A runaway child. A diagnosis. A sudden job loss. A divorce. I could write pages on the horrors that stop our world. But when you look up from your ashes, people are still living, laughing, loving, and continuing with life. It seems unfair at first. In fact, some don’t even see your pain, and that feels like salt in a wound. Some struggle to care if you’re hurting because they can’t relate to your loss. Their words might even be flippant or insensitive.
Right after I lost my dad, I went with friends to Hobby. My dad died mid-May, and Father’s Day celebrations were everywhere in the store. My two girlfriends were shopping for cards and reading them allowed to each other, unaware of the sorrow I was dealing with at that moment. One of my girlfriends looked up and had some idea but not a full revelation. She tried to say something like “your dads in heaven” or something lame like that, but it fell flat. They were rejoicing and giggling and having fun, and I was still holding ashes of grief. I left them in the card section while I perused the store. And low and behold, as I ached alone, I found a picture framed in one of my favorite colors, with a song lyric my dad sang to me all the time. “I love you a bushel and peck and a hug around the neck” Well, you can be darn sure I bought that sucker. It could have been full price without a coupon, and I would have paid it. But thankfully, it was Hobby Lobby, and we know there is always a sale. My point, even though my friends unintentionally failed me, my Jesus was comforting me in my pain.
I tried to think back on times I may have been rejoicing while another was hurting and hoped I was not as cruel as that moment felt to me.
Today started with a precious friend whose world was stopping. Her heart was hurting. And Her hands were tied. Prayers of strength and comfort were all I had to give. I wanted to hug her. Take away the heartache and pain. I wanted to hold her, but all I could do was convey through words how much I loved her and was praying for her.
Later that morning, I spent a few hours rejoicing with a different friend. Her health is good, but a few years ago, we nearly lost her. I realized the vast difference between the two friends today, and I recognized I sat between comfort and joy. I hurt with one this morning and rejoiced with another this afternoon.
It wasn’t too long ago I was praying with the rejoicing friend. She was fighting breast cancer and being put through the wringer with surgeries and chemo. Her world was stopping while others shopped for Christmas presents. Her world was being shaken, while others were dancing and celebrating. She was living the scripture that weeping will last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. See Psalm 35:5
John 16 is all about preparing for a wound to the soul with a death that is about to happen. Jesus is trying to explain they will hurt and will hurt like hell. But He is also giving them a promise in the pain. You will Rejoice again, and no one can take that away!
“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 16:20-22 NIV
Sisters, some of you are in the “now is your time of grief” moment and “you will weep,” but that doesn’t mean life is without joy. Others are in their “rejoicing” time, but that doesn’t mean your life is without pain. If I know anything at all about living between needing comfort and spinning in delights of joy, it’s this- Grief is not forever, and His comfort in our sorrow has never been tangible than when our pain drives us to our knees. There is such sweetness with our King during our brokenness that we can look back on our grief and find unspeakable joy because we never felt closer to Jesus than when our world stopped.
His promises are our comfort, and they will carry us through to better days – read Psalm 119:50