Your Grief Will Become Joy

“Your Grief Will Become Joy”
A reflection on John 16:20-22
©️2022 by Gloria M. Chang

When a child is begotten
Past travails are forgotten.

Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. 

John 16:20-22

The fear and darkness that enshrouded the disciples on the night of Christ’s arrest in the garden of Gethsemane transformed into joy after his resurrection, but only after an anguished period of doubt and despair. 

St. John Chrysostom writes:

And he has used a comparison that the prophets frequently employed, comparing sufferings with the excessive pains of childbirth. What he meant is something like this: “Sufferings like birth pangs will lay hold of you, but the pain of childbirth is a cause of joy.” This confirms his words about the resurrection and shows that his departure from them was like passing from the womb into the light of day. It is as though he had said, “Don’t be amazed that I bring you to what is profitable for you by way of such sorrow, since even a mother, to become a mother, passes in a similar way through pain.” Here also he implies something mystical, that he has removed the birth pangs of death and caused a new person to be born of them. Furthermore, he not only said that the pain shall pass away but also that “she does not even remember it,” so great is the joy that follows; so also shall it be with the saints. And yet the woman does not rejoice because “a human being has come into the world” but because a child has been born to her. For if the former had been the case, nothing would have hindered the barren woman from rejoicing over another who gives birth to a child.

Homilies on the Gospel of John 79.1

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.

Revelation 21:4

2 Replies to “Your Grief Will Become Joy”

  1. Dear GMC, your reflection helps us bear our crosses well. We don’t deny the anguish they bring, but we also cannot forget the the purpose and joy they give us ultimately. You help me look at my cross as a labor of love and not as a labor of pain. I focus on Love of Christ and all that he promises to us through the cross. May you continue to help others come as gift to God through all that you do for Him. And may Jesus continue to shine your path and bless you always.

    1. “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
      -2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (RSV)

      Thank you, fdan, for your words of encouragement!

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