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. So 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 16:21-22
We live in a culture that wants you 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. 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. First off joy is not apart from sorrow. Many Christians make the mistake of thinking that sorrow is the opposite of joy. But that is false. We see this in the 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 are new Christians we think that now our sufferings and sorrow will go away but that is false. The Gospel message is such that when you become a Christian you will have still have pain and sufferings but because you know Christ you have this new found joy that will overwhelm your pain and suffering that you go through. 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.