Today for my devotion time, my Bible reading was in John 16. These were the passages today that stood out to me:
“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them." -John 16:1-3
assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world
will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned
into joy. A
woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but
as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the
anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you." -John 16: 20-22
I love both of these passages. The first one challenged me to consider how people can do horrible things to each other, and be convinced in their own minds that they are acting in a way that will please God. Thinking on this, one of the first groups that came to mind was the group of militant Islamic extremists, who view it as holy and just to kill infidels. I know they are not the only ones in history who have done this, but they are definitely an example of people in our time. I also see how in the history of the church, there have been many cases where one group has killed another for heresy. All of this is so sad to me, but it encourages me to read here that Jesus warns his people this is to be expected. It also serves as a warning for humility on my part, and to be very careful not to speak for God unless I am 100% certain he has told me to, AND that it lines up with who He is and what He says in scripture. I must look at the context of scriptures as well, and always ask the Holy Spirit to help lead and guide me in truth.
The second passage tells me that even though there is much suffering in this life, that it is not suffering without purpose or end. A woman giving birth endures a whole lot of pain, but the end of that pain is a beautiful baby. At that moment, the pain fades from memory and what becomes central is the joy she feels as she holds her child in her arms for the first time. At that moment, she is actually GLAD for the pain, since it brought her to that moment of joy. Jesus is saying here that we must trust him to redeem the pain, and that there will come a day when our joy is complete. As he was talking to the disciples, I think much of that has been fulfilled through his death and resurrection. While the audience he spoke to in that moment didn't understand his words, those of us who follow Him now most assuredly do. So while they could only see their suffering as an end, we can view all suffering as a beginning. All of creation looks forward to the day when Jesus returns, and will make all things new. And what a wonderful day that will be!