A little more than one year ago, my wife suffered through the Texas summer to deliver our first child on August 14th. She was constantly overheated and terribly uncomfortable that summer and yet her suffering only increased the morning of August 14th. However, at 4:45 p.m. everything changed. When Josie arrived and laid on Erin’s chest for the first time, the tears rolling down my wife’s cheeks answered the simple question, “Was it worth it?”
As Jesus continues, what we call the Upper Room Discourse, he again predicts his capture and execution. Jesus tells them in verse 20 that “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.” This prediction of his own resurrection completely baffled the Apostles. Yet, their bafflement was realized in the desperation of watching their hope die with their friend. It was only later that they would understand Jesus’ fateful words in this passage. With the resurrection came unspeakable joy, comparable only to the birth of a child (21).
If my daughter Josie has taught me one thing, it is that control is an illusion. If you have a fairly normal pregnancy, as my wife did, you worry about all the things that might happen. Even after Josie was born, I worried about choking hazards, car seats, pack n plays, even what amounted to biological warfare if someone wanted to hold her without a squirt of hand sanitizer. So much was outside of my control. We heard story after story of parents losing their babies from the most random things. Every time I put Josie down to sleep I realized my own inability to keep her safe.
Ultimately, the lesson I learned was a new way to trust God with what is most precious to me. This idea, and this passage, are especially difficult for people who have experienced suffering and loss. Jesus says in verse 23, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” Yet, can this be true? What about the parent who cries out for the life of their child, only to see them buried?
We must understand that what Jesus is describing here is a fundamental change. Christ provided, through his death, the one thing that humanity had been missing—a relationship with God the Father. In addition, the Holy Spirit is the foretold comforter and helper for believers after Christ’s ascension. The answer to the above difficult question rests in this fundamental change between believers and the Triune Godhead. The key to verse 23 and surrounding context is the phrase “in my name,” suggesting that our requests are based on the authority of Christ, and fulfilled in light of God’s mission on Earth. What we are promised is not an escape from suffering, but hope for when suffering comes.
If you’ve experienced loss or suffering recently, from the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry. Over the years I’ve found great comfort in Romans 8:18 in times of trials and I hope that you may reflect on this passage and that God grant you peace in the hope we have in Jesus Christ. “For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the coming glory that will be revealed to us.” (NET) In the comments, share how this verse might encourage you today.
By: Tyler Short