First of all, I apologize to you, God, for not getting this out on Sunday, the day that it’s supposed to be posted. I have not one single good excuse to offer that could redeem me in my delay. I got lazy and decided I wanted to do other things.
It was a good day yesterday though. We got up and went to church, warmly welcomed, not only by God, but also by a woman that we had only met once or twice before at that particular church. We invited her to sit beside us, rather than behind us, so that we could better share our fellowship experience together as well.
The service was perfect for my wife, dealing with grief transforming into joy. At this time in her life, she’s dealing with grief, not loss of life, but loss of the ability to interact with her son, who is in Navy boot camp. She’s struggling, especially through this holiday season, with the fact that she’s only able to write letters to him, wait for a letter from him, which she has yet to receive, wait for a phone call from him, of which she’s only received one, and not being able to talk to him randomly throughout the day as she would have just one month ago.
The verse the service revolved around was John 16 16-24
The Disciples’ Grief Will Turn to Joy
16 Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”
17 At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”
19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 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. 23 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. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”
While one’s initial thought, again, may limit themselves to think of death when the idea of grief comes up, there are so many other ways to experience grief. Grief can be experienced, like I said, in just not being able to talk to that one person you really want to talk to, even if it’s only for a temporary time, or it may come from not being able to be as generous as you once were, or feeling as if a world has left you behind while others are in fast forward, and you struggle to understand.
Whatever the cause of the grief is, it’s important to remember that, first, God does not want us to hurt. Sometimes there are circumstances beyond our control that cause us to hurt, but it’s what we do with each circumstance that hurts us that makes us each a better person and a better Christian. At the end of each struggle is joy, we just have to be willing to have that joy that God promised us. I promise, there is no hurt that any of us could ever feel that is more painful than that of what Jesus felt on the day of His crucifixion, physically, mentally, and emotionally, yet…He did it all for us, to promise us a chance for salvation and relief from pain…to offer us a promise of joy, that being a place we could go to at the end of our journey called Heaven.
At times we fail to recognize the world beyond our own pain and grief. Our rooms have become so darkened that we don’t even want to open the window to let some light in. First, when we do that, we create grief and pain for others who love and care about us, but also, we fail to get a glimpse of what else is out there. We forget that there is more than just that piece of pain in our lives. We forget about God’s bigger picture, His ultimate scheme in our lives. Yes, at the end of every struggle is joy, but also, at the end of every struggle is a renewed strength and faith, not only in ourselves, but in our Savior, which we can then preach about and glorify in, strengthening the Faith of Christianity and the Promise of the Kingdom of Heaven to our brothers and sisters around the world. It’s not that He’s using us, but we are His disciples, and it’s, not only our responsibility, but our honor to spread His word, even if it came at the cost of our own heartaches. If you’ve read up on The Bible, you know that not many people in The Bible escaped without heartache and pain before joy.
But knowing that the joy is out there, keeping that in your cross hairs is the most important part of keeping the faith. If we keep in mind that one day, after all our earthly struggles, after our strength has piqued because of our endurance, after we learn to experience joy just because life is sitting right there in front of us, we’ll feel good about what we’ve done with what was left of our lives to live, and Jesus will uphold his promise, because we, as good Christians, have upheld ours, to bring us Home. And there we can be with our Heavenly father and experience a joy that nothing on Earth can compare to.
We just have to stick it out here, get through, do the best we can, nourish our hearts, minds and souls to make it through our heartaches and struggles, regardless of the circumstances. Of course it’s fine to grieve, if someone wrongs you, of course you’re going to hurt, but we have to make ourselves stronger from every tear that falls. And we can’t let ourselves drown in our own tears. Jesus never gave up, He never gave up on us, and we shouldn’t give up on ourselves either.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
I had a song picked out this week that kind of hit on the importance of not letting life pass us by. I usually don’t listen to it because I get choked up when I do, thinking about how one day, that time will come when, in my relationship with my wife, one of us will have to pass on. But because life is so important, and every moment is important, and every person in it is important, I decided to go for it this week. Then I came across another song, that seemed a little more like a conversation between someone and God, as if there were some struggles happening, and I somehow thought that one was appropriate also, and then I became unsure of which one I should choose. But, then, there’s this other song that’s been following me around for the past couple weeks that is kind of like a song for a journey. So…since I’m at odds with which song to go with this week. Here’s all three!
~Dear Lord, thank you for all your blessings this week, even if I’ve failed to recognize them right away. Thank you for allowing others to recognize them and make me aware so that we can share in the joy of those blessings together. Thank you for the opportunity of new friends and the opportunity to glorify you. Please wrap your Fatherly arms around those who need you right now, to hold their hearts as they struggle with their emotions and circumstances, help them see that there can be joy, and that You, Lord, are there for them, always waiting. Please watch over our daughter as she enters into another opportunity for education, help her get her mind in the place it needs to be so that she may take this opportunity to the sky. Please watch over everyone during their travels and health, Lord. Heavenly Father, I ask these things in your most precious and Holy name. Amen~