Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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December 28 – In Labor Now, Joy To Come

“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.  When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.  So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”  John 16:20-22

Devotional Thought For The Day

Those people who are of the “world” and those who know and believe God’s love for us in Christ Jesus react and respond to things in quite different ways.  Because their “faith” is informed and oriented in such different ways, their goals and aspirations are often diametrically opposed.  Likewise, their reactions to many things are completely different – dramatically and fundamentally inconsonant.  This continues on to this very day, and often makes it quite difficult for people to get along or even have a civil conversation with each other.  This was true in regard to the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, as you can read in the Gospel accounts.  It is still true in regard to Who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for our salvation – reactions to the good news of God’s love for us in Christ Jesus are quite disparate between Christians and non-believers.

This fundamental difference of faith and “enlightenment” is the source of differing views of abortion, sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, the greedy acquisition of wealth and earthly pleasures, impiety toward God, and a host of other things – how one views the nature of the world, humanity, and morality, opinions and “positions” that the world finds “reasonable” but which are abhorrent to God and destructive of the good of humanity.  The effect of all of these things is “joy” for those of the world, and utter sorrow and lamentation for those who know God and understand the nature of His love for us.  So regardless of whether good prevails or evil prevails, some are rejoicing and some are sorrowing.  Unfortunately, for those who side with God, the majority of mankind is rejoicing in evil and therefore there is greater sorrow for those who belong to God.  This reality forces us to confront the mystery of God’s providence over this present evil age, and what it is that He is seeking to accomplish in this world, prior to the purifying and restoring of all things in the new heavens and new earth.  It also forces us to grapple with the reality that if we are children of God we will have greater sorrow and weeping in this lifetime – which is paradoxical to the joy and peace that surpasses understanding.

As is often the case in Biblical prophecy – which is what these words of Jesus are, there are two levels of meaning and fulfillment.  The first refers to His suffering, death, and resurrection – which these disciples were soon to experience quite poignantly and powerfully.  The second refers to the lives of all Christians following His ascension and prior to His return in glory on the Last Day.  We too will “weep and lament” and have great sorrow as the world rejoices in all manner of evil – the worst of which is utter disregard and disrespect for God, the only True and Living God.  Jesus gives us the example of child-birth to help us understand the process, and you recall the apostle Paul used this same imagery in regard to our experience of the passing of human history in the current cosmos:  “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” [Romans 8:22,23]

Those who have gone through child-birth, perhaps more poignant for mothers, but also quite disquieting for fathers, can grasp and understand the comparison Jesus makes.  So we should not be surprised or discouraged by our sorrow and weeping in this world – over the evil, wretchedness, and wickedness of those around us.  We will have sorrow because we have been infected by love, God’s love, and that compels compassion and caring even for those who have given up on themselves and plunged themselves into the darkness.  The world will have joy for a time, the “pleasures” of sin [which while addictive are not really all that pleasant – like drug addiction] – until the new comes, the glorious Lord Christ in all His glory.  Then their “joy” will turn into eternal sorrow, and the sorrow of God’s children will turn into the joy of God’s everlasting kingdom of righteousness, beauty, and light.  Then we will “no longer remember the anguish.”  And though “you have sorrow now” Jesus “will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”  So we carry on with the conflict, with the sorrow, but with eager expectation of the joy soon to come!

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, You observe all our sorrow, consternation, and even anger at the wickedness of the world and its hatred of Your love for us.  You suffer all of this far more poignantly than we do – yet at times it seems almost overwhelming to us.  Preserve us from hardness of heart and loss of love; enable us to endure the “labor pains,” holding fast to Your promise of the joy to come to Your dear people of faith.  Amen.