Have you ever found yourself thinking or saying, “I’ll be so happy when…” or “If only…”?
Wishing is part of human nature. We are born with a longing for something better.
But such desires are often focused wrongly.
An old Scottish nursery rhyme speaks of the futility of it all:
While most of this rhyme is meant to encourage children to work more and question less, it does reveal the desires of the human heart.
People want to find happiness.
They think they know what is best for them.
They grieve what could be or what could have been.
A reading of John 16 reveals that Jesus understands the wishing and the longing of the human heart. This text is the intimate chat He had with his disciples just prior to being arrested on Maundy Thursday.
Having just told them he was going away, “going to the Father”, he warns them of the consequences and confusion they would suffer when he leaves to die on the cross.
The Lord knows pain and suffering is inevitable when he goes. But there’s hope for the future, too. He illustrated this with a scenario known to every mother:
He says, before joy, it will be painful.
He says, but hang on, the anguish is temporary.
He says, YOU WILL SEE ME AGAIN.
Did you catch it? What is the secret to finding true joy, a complete joy?
It’s seeing Jesus. It’s seeing him after the cross, after the resurrection.
But how do we see him?
We can’t limit how he reveals himself to us but we do know some sure ways. Take joy, ladies! Jesus is near you right now.
We encounter Jesus in our baptism. “And having been buried with Him in baptism, you were raised with Him through your faith in the power of God, who raised Him from the dead.” Colossians 2:12
We encounter Jesus in communion. “Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.” John 6:53-57
We encounter Jesus in the Word of God. ”And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13
Whenever there’s a wishful moment, an unfulfilled longing, an “if only…” moment, open the Word to this section of scripture and hear Jesus calming your fears. He knows life in this world will be unsettling.
But God’s got each and every rough moment. Every grief. Every tear. Every sorrow.
Instead of fretting or wishing for things to make life better, desire Jesus and his peace. Remember his words to all his disciples. He’s talking directly to each of us:
Jesus here defines complete joy that no one can take away:
Complete joy is peace in knowing and believing that he has overcome and conquered this world of sin and sorrow.
Complete joy is ours through his death and resurrection.
Complete joy is restored fellowship with God the Father.
Complete joy is the sure hope of eternal life!
My prayer is that we would all embrace complete joy and share the freedom it gives!