Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. (John 16:20-22)
Your joy no one will take from you
I will affirm unequivocally at the beginning that I know nothing about what I am about to talk about. The nature of child-birth is held in deep respect by the knowledge that until one has given birth to a child there are no words to explain the process. Having said that (and hopefully saved my life) I do understand the nature of birth is a very painful experience. The Lord told Eve He would greatly multiply her sorrow and conception and the bringing forth of children would be a painful event. Jesus refers to this when He is trying to give assurance to His disciples before facing His cross and death. They had no idea what was about to happen. There were times in the ministry of Jesus He told them of His death and they were very sorrowful to hear the news (Matthew 17:23). But they were not prepared for Him dying on the cross.
When Jesus was arrested the disciples fled from him. Hung upon a cross in a most horrible manner the followers of Jesus were filled with sadness. Peter denied the Lord running away weeping bitterly. One can only imagine how many tears of deep sorrow were shed those few days before Jesus appeared after resurrection. It was then they would know joy beyond measure. Using the illustration of birth the disciples would experience deep sorrow but their sorrow would bring forth joy when they would see the Lord face to face. And that joy could never be taken away from them.
Today is Monday. It feels like a Monday, looks like a Monday, acts like a Monday – it is Monday. Life can be like Monday’s. Hold on to your hat – life can be like giving birth. It is painful but the reward is what it is all about. We will forget all our travails because God will wipe our tears away. The new birth of eternal life will be a wonder without words. And that joy will never be taken away from us. Never.
Heaven at present is out of sight, but in due time, as snow melts and discovers what it lay upon, so will this visible creation fade away before those greater splendors which are behind it. (John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, 4, 1843)