No more pain, no more grief – Friday, 6th week of Easter – Acts 18:9-18/John 16:20-23a
The reality of human suffering is not something that Jesus diminishes for us. Jesus is not a salesman with a product but God who comes with salvation. He is not selling anything rather offering the gift of life, free of cost. He does not sugar coat his message to gather followers rather he presents us with the truth so that we may be devoted disciples. Todays, teaching is another dose of one such truths.
“So, you have pain now, “says Jesus. The word used in the RSV Bible for pain is Λύπην – lypēn which also translates to grief and in the context of 16:20 reads better as grief. Jesus has told his disciples that they will weep and mourn but the world will rejoice at his suffering and crucifixion. It is in this context that Jesus mentions that the disciples will experience pain or grief; but that grief is not the last word, for grief will ‘turn’ to joy. This “pain” is not a physical pain but an emotional heart ache that the disciples will experience for soon they will no longer see Jesus.
Suffering in itself seems futile but Christian suffering is a means to an end. While no one will-fully wishes suffering for one’s self, our experiences teach us that when suffering does come to us, we know that the last word is always triumph; our pain turns to joy. Just like a woman wreathing at childbirth will forget every bit of her pain when she gives birth to a child, so also the pain that the disciples endure will be for “a little while.”
For those Christians who read this text, especially those whose “little while” seems never ending, I wish to offer my prayers for your endurance. I have seen many good people suffer physical ailments that have chained them to a bed for several years. I have seen people with emotional pains that have made them prisoners of their mind and struggles that make it hard to get up and face the dawn. I cannot offer you anything but the promise of Jesus in John 16:22, “so you have pain now but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice and no one will take your joy from you.”
Perhaps for many of us, our pain and grief may be a lifetime and that “little while” that Jesus promised may seem a cruel irony. Yet for those who understand that we are but pilgrims of this earth with permanent citizenship in heaven, we must, we should, we have to find consolation in the promise of Jesus, that when we see him again, it will be Him that we see with joy in our hearts. Then, from that moment, no one will ever take away our joy.
In the prayers for the dead, we speak of heaven as that place where there is no more suffering, no more pain (grief) for heaven is our joyful home. On that day, there will be no more questions, for on that day, ‘we will ask nothing of the Lord.’ – John 16;23a