Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.These verses are spoken by Jesus during the Last Supper, after Judas had already gone out to betray Him. He is reiterating what he just said earlier,
A little while, and you will no longer see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me.The disciples were questioning what it is He was saying and so he spoke verses 20-22 to clarify what He meant. Jesus was telling them that He was about to be put to death and the world would proclaim its triumph over them. But He gives the promise that their grief would be turned into joy. This is a promise of none other than the Holy Spirit.
He then gives a visual of a woman in labor. The pain is real, but the joy of the coming of the child makes the pain seemingly worth the joy that comes. In the same way, we, as believers are like women in labor, because, having been born again in Christ, we have not yet entered into the heavenly kingdom of God and the blessed life. We have, in part, the joy Jesus speaks of here, but not in its fulness and so there still remains hope within each one of us for something better. Romans 8:22-25 says,
For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.The first fruits of this blessed childbirth is the Holy Spirit, which Jesus mentioned in John 16, but this joy that Jesus speaks about in verse 22 will not be complete until the 2nd coming of Jesus. No one can take the first fruits from us now and no one will take that joy from us when He comes again.
The hope of eternal life is something that I need to meditate on more often. This passage (John 16) creates the idea that it is this coming joy that will motivate me to endure patiently the trials of this life. Let us all take up this task of thinking more than we do on the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ. It will be bittersweet, as the more we bring this to the forefront of our attention, the more we will groan with the reality that it is not yet, but have the hope mingled with perseverance and wait eagerly for it!