Day 16: When Pain Leads to Joy

John 16:20-24 
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. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

In John 16, after the last supper, Jesus is spending time with His disciples, explaining to them what is to come, and comforting them. Jesus spoke to them with the end in mind of what He knew what was coming, even if His disciples did not quite understand what was happening. He spent time not only talking to them; He also spent time in prayer for them.

At this point, Jesus knew the cross was waiting for Him, but He took the time to tell His disciples that they would grieve and that they would suffer. However, He reassured them they would do so only for a time and that their suffering would be transformed into joy. He did not lie to them or try to sugarcoat the truth of what was to come.  

Jesus compared the pain they would be experiencing to how a woman gives birth. The pains of childbirth are agonizing and intense. Sometimes childbirth lasts hours and or even days. In the process of labor, a woman can often fluctuate between varying and powerful emotions such as anger, rage, doubt, anticipation, and fear as her contractions intensify. But after a woman gives birth to a child, she is so overjoyed with the baby that she quickly forgets the suffering caused by the labor (John 16:21).
Like a woman in childbirth, God can use our intense pains, hardships, and challenges that we go through in order that we may experience a joy that has been made complete by Him. Because of His death and resurrection we too can share in His victory over the results of sin and death in our lives.

If we are in Christ, there will be a day where all the pain and brokenness that we have experienced in this life will be no more and “He will wipe every tear from their eyes (Rev. 21:4).” I am speaking of heaven. But until that great day, we can experience God’s joy in/through suffering on this earth. The true challenge for us is how and IF we give ourselves that permission to process pain and grief as He leads us through it. Just as He did with the Disciples in John 16, He can do so with us. 

Prayer Prompts:
  1. What pain am I experiencing that I haven’t grieved? Am I grieving without knowing that I am? Ask the Holy Spirit, the Helper, to help you process and grieve pain that has been hidden or pushed down in your heart.
  2. Like a woman in childbirth, do you experience varying emotions and or thoughts as you face and experience pain? Acknowledge the pain, feel the pain, and release the pain in your Father’s presence today.  Grief is a process and may take more time to come out of it.  Be encouraged that Jesus knows your pain and the Holy Spirit is present to counsel and help you every step of the way.  Focus on God’s promises found in His Word like Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
  3. Spend time also in a time of waiting on God.  Do you anticipate the day when all suffering will come to an end? Do you look forward to the eternal joy and peace that will be experienced by all believers in Jesus Christ? How does knowing all suffering has an expiration date encourage you in this season?
  4. Pray: Father, I thank You that because of Jesus, a time is coming when all trials and suffering will come to an end. Until that day, empower me to persevere through my current trials and experience joy and peace actively as I wait on you to speak.
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