John 16:16, 20b - (Jesus said) "A little while, and you will see Me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see Me. ... You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy."
There's an old Black spiritual that states, "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen; nobody knows, but Jesus." It moves along in a minor key, and then bursts at last into a shout of triumph: "Glory! Hallelujah!" That's life, all right, isn't it? The storm breaks in full fury; it spends its force; the clouds disperse; and suddenly the sun shines again heartening warm and friendly. Glory! Hallelujah!
There was something like that in the hours leading up to Jesus' crucifixion. The disciples were bewildered. Christ was opening His heavy heart to His intimate friends and was delivering an address which has been aptly described as "rarely mixed of sadness and joy, and studded with mysteries as with emeralds." There was much in it the disciples did not understand. Finally, one of His statements piqued their curiosity to the speaking point. It was this: "A little while and you will see Me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see Me."
They did not dare ask for an explanation. Too often they had been dim to their Master's words. They did not want to grieve Him anymore with their stupidity, especially at a time like this. But they were puzzled enough to ask one another in a whisper: "What is this that He says to us, 'A little while, and you will not see Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me'?" (John 16:17b).
Once more the helpful, all-understanding Jesus came to their relief by saying, "Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, 'A little while and you will not see Me, and again a little while and you will see Me'? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy" (John 16:19b-20).
It was not the last time the disciples had such an experience, in a little while finding themselves in trouble and again in a little while finding themselves in happy relief. Suddenly, they were in jail. God took a hand, and suddenly they were free. Their work was seriously hampered by enemies. It was most discouraging—for little while. Then God gave them remarkable success.
We notice this in our lives too, don't we? One day we're in turmoil; the next day things suddenly clear. One week we're in the hospital, anxious and concerned; a few weeks later we're grateful to be about our business once more. One hour Christ seems to be far away; a little while later He is standing by our side. Sorrow and joy, doubt and faith, shadows and light, separated by a little while—that's the pattern of our lives.
But we know that when it's all said and done, the Light is here to stay. Jesus has conquered our darkest sorrows. Our deepest wounds find healing balm in His blood. We will do well to remember that when only the pain is felt and the outcome of our trial is still hidden, that He still speaks to us: "a little while and ... your sorrow will turn into joy."
THE PRAYER: Jesus, You are here, always by our side. Remind us daily of this beautiful truth. Amen.
From "A Little While," a sermon excerpt from Rev. Dr. Armin Oldsen, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
1. Have you ever been "out of the loop" on understanding some significant piece of information?
2. "Your sorrow will turn to joy"—what do you think the disciples first made of that statement?
3. How do you deal with life's ups and downs in respect to your faith and outlook?
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