Jump Start # 3498
John 16:21 “Whenever a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she remembers the anguish no more, for joy that a child has been born into the world.”
Sorrow and joy—that combination fills the world and our lives. Birthday parties, holidays, family gatherings bring much joy. Funerals, disappointments, bad news bring sorrow. In this setting, Jesus is telling the disciples that He is leaving them.
· I am going to Him who sent me (5)
· If I go, I will send Him (Holy Spirit) to you (7)
· A little while, and you will no longer behold Me (16)
The Lord’s departure would bring mixed emotions. For the disciples they would sorrow. For the world, they would rejoice. The world would be glad to be rid of Jesus. But, the sorrow the disciples would experience would not last long. Jesus promised, “I will see you again” (22).
And, to illustrate this, Jesus tells the story of a baby being born. Labor and delivery is what we call it these days. Interestingly, Jesus telling the twelve male apostles about babies being born. The apostles may have heard about this or even witnessed this in their own families, but it is something that they would never fully understand. I have witnessed my four children being born. I have anxiously sat in the waiting room as several of our grandchildren were born. It’s hard for men to watch their wives and daughters in intense pain and feeling completely useless and helpless at that moment. Modern drugs help, but believe me, I’ll catch the devil from our female readers who will tell me that I have no idea what it is like. And, believe me, I have no idea. I expect if we men were giving birth, most homes would have only one child.
The point Jesus is making is that there is a moment of deep sorrow. In the delivery process, there is intense pain. But once that healthy baby is being held, the joys exceed the sorrow and the years of happiness that follows make it all worth while. Do the mamas forget the experience? No. Most mothers can tell you what day of the week, what hour of the day, what the room looked like and what the doctor was wearing. They may even remember the nurses names and the room number they gave birth in. The dad doesn’t remember any of those things.
Sorrow and joy. Let’s think for a moment about that combination.
First, sorrow and joy is experienced in the process of conversion. The sorrow comes from one who realizes that he is a sinner and he has shamed the God who loves him. That brokenness leads to repentance, coming home as the prodigal did. That leads to the waters of baptism where that sorrow quickly turns to joy. Washed. Redeemed. Justified. Cleansed. Saved. What a roller coaster of emotions. Tears and smiles. Feeling bad and feeling good.
Second, sorrow and joy is experienced when one apologies to another. The sorrow comes from realizing that you have done something wrong. You hurt someone. The shame and guilt leads a person to humbly apologizing for the sins he has committed. When the wronged person forgives, hugs, tears are followed by joy and smiles. A fragile relationship was repaired, strengthened and once again good. Grace, forgiveness and love was exchanged. Sorrow was replaced with joy. Ill feelings were changed to wonderful fellowship.
Third, sorrow and joy is experienced with the death of a Christian. The world is always a bit darker because one of God’s disciples have gone home. There is a hole in the congregation. Someone we loved, cherished and were made better because of, no longer walks among us. Their voice is silent. Their influence is left to memories. Tears flow. A funeral takes place. But, we remember the promises of God. They are where they want to be. They are in the presence of the Lord. Never again to be plagued with the troubles of this world. No more temptation. No more bad news. No more Satan in their life.
But the greatest joy is being able to see them again on the other side. A very common question is, “Will we know one another in Heaven?” I believe the answer is absolutely yes. There are passages where Paul indicates that to the brethren. The alternative would be spending eternity with a bunch of strangers. That doesn’t sound very appealing to me. The grand reunion of families, friends and brethren tugs on our hearts and makes us realize how beautify Heaven must be.
Sorrows and joy. The pain of child birth and the joys of holding a beautiful baby.