21) A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. ~ John 16:16-22
We live in a culture that wants us to be happy! We see it on the cover of our magazines, in the million-dollar self-help book industry, we hear it in our sermons, etc. You need to be happy, we are told. But there is a great difference between being happy and having joy. I would put forth that we need joy not happiness. In the passage above, John captures what this joy looks like.
We see this in John’s description of child birth. Any mother will tell you there is great joy in the birth of a baby that is mixed in with a lot of pain and even sorrow. But while the new-found joy of the baby doesn’t take away the pain, it does overwhelm the pain. For most of us when we think of joy, we think that joy means no more sorrow or suffering. That sorrow is somehow the opposite of joy. But that is false. That separation between joy and sorrow is not what we find in Scripture.
The Gospel message is such that life is filled with sorrow and suffering, but because we now know Christ, we can have new found joy that will overwhelm the pain and suffering that we encounter in life. The joy that we read about in St. John’s Gospel is a joy that can only come with the assurance of salvation. It is because assurance of salvation is the mark of real joy that John can write that no one will take it away.
Dr. Dave Lescalleet serves as the Director Chaplaincy for PruittHealth.