Grief Turns to Joy

John 16: 16-20
Acts 18: 1-8 / Psa 98

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
(John 16:20)

We put our trust in You, O God
That our troubles have a reason,
For being wayward, there’s the rod,
But Your love comes in due season.

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.” At this, some of His disciples said to one another, “What does He mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will no longer see me, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” They kept asking, “What does He mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what He is saying.” 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’? I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.” (John 16:16-20)

Reflection

Jesus kept reassuring His friends that their loss and sorrow would only last for a short time, because while death was imminent, He would rise again after three days. Earlier, before they left for Gethsemane, our Lord reminded them, “I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe” (Jn.14:29). Developing their faith was primary in the mission of Jesus, and the truth of His words was vital in developing that faith.

As He had predicted, the apostles not only wept and mourned over His passion and death, they were even terrified that their Master was no longer with them, while the Jewish leaders rejoiced. But soon enough, their grief turned to joy when Jesus resurrected from the dead, and appeared before them. Once again, His presence in their midst would be brief, but His promises would all be fulfilled on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to make God’s Presence in their lives complete. As Jesus had promised before He ascended into heaven, “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of time” (Mt.28:20).

It has often been said that lasting peace and joy cannot be acquired without suffering. The Bible is replete with similar nuggets of wisdom. The epistle of St. James said, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (Ja.1:2-4). St. Paul wrote a similar advice to the Romans: “…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom.5:3-5). In the book of Hebrews, we read, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Heb.12:11).

Jesus is telling us in today’s Gospel that carrying our own cross in this life is an inevitable part of our journey to heaven. God, our loving Father cannot spare us from suffering, just as the truism says, “spare the rod, and spoil the child.” In fact, many life testimonies have revealed that hardships caused the transformations, and even change of fortunes for the better. In some cases, cancer led to the sinner’s repentance and salvation. We only have to trust in God that He will never let our sufferings happen for no good reason.

“Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him… Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the LORD, for He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.” (Psa.98:1,7,8) Amen.

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