“16 ¶ "A little while, and ye shall not see Me; and again a little while, and ye shall see Me, because I go to the Father." 17 Then said some of His disciples among themselves, "What is this that He saith unto us, ‘A little while, and ye shall not see Me; and again a little while, and ye shall see Me,’ and, ‘because I go to the Father’?" 18 They said therefore, "What is this that He saith, ‘A little while’? We cannot tell what He saith." 19 Now Jesus knew that they were desirous of asking Him, and said unto them, "Do ye inquire among yourselves of what I said, ‘A little while, and ye shall not see Me; and again a little while, and ye shall see Me’? 20 Verily, verily I say unto you that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. 21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for the joy that a man is born into the world. 22 And ye now therefore have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.John 16:16-23
The light came on this morning, listening to someone expound on John 16. He was contrasting the sorrow the disciples felt with the news of His imminent departure with the joy they would soon know with his resurrection from the dead. Can there be joy in sorrow? Can we exit the existential cycle of conditional happiness and enter into unconditional joy, that cannot ever be taken away by undesirable circumstances? Yes. Jesus promised us this, that the joy He gives is eternal, and one that the world knows nothing about. Yet, honestly, my observation of believers today is that we are almost always existential; happy when things are going well and in despair when they are not. This is not what Jesus intended. There are those few who walk at peace no matter what, having entered the Rest spoken of in Hebrews four. What do they know that most of us don't?
If I could draw a word picture, I would have you imagine a great chasm. On the one side is suffering and sorrow. On the other side is unconditional joy. But the chasm is deep. One cannot go around it, or through it. The pain of the moment seems so awful that joy should never be ours. But though one cannot naturally escape the existentialist reality, there is another way: GO OVER THE BRIDGE!
What bridge, brother? I don't see any bridge! You are imagining things, Indiana Jones! O, but the bridge is there, the "bridge over troubled water". You don't see it because to see the purpose of your suffering and sorrow one needs FAITH. Faith is the bridge that enabled our Lord, for the JOY set before Him, to gladly endure the shame of the cross. So will faith be the bridge that will transform our perspective. Look, faith did NOT deliver Jesus FROM the cross. He still had a mission to accomplish. But from the moment He, by faith, was able to pray, "not my will, but Thine" the victory was already His. So our unconditional faith avails much. We might NOT be delivered from our cross, either, but we can see the reward beyond that cross. Having seen this, we also, for the JOY set before us, gladly endure. Sometimes, we will be granted a miracle, but if not, it does not matter, for His grace is sufficient for us, His strength perfected in our weakness.
This is the same faith that comes "by hearing, and hearing by the revealed Word of God". This is why Jesus tells us to pray, "Give us this day our Daily Bread" and reminds us that "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God". Saints, our walk here on earth simply will NOT make any sense unless we receive Faith from God through his revealed word (Rhema). Having received, we will then be able to walk in the joy of the LORD.