Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 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.”
There are many ways to distinguish between that which the world offers and that which God offers. One of the starkest contrasts between these two is time. The world is temporary, and everything that it makes available to us is temporary as well. God is eternal, and what He gives us is what will last through eternity because it is factual and true. For example, his love is not merely for now but will last forever. It is not something that can be turned off or set aside. It simply is. The same is true about the joy of the Lord. When God gives us his joy, it is not only just for today’s hard time or tomorrow’s struggle. The joy that God gives us is just as eternal as all of his other gifts. What joy we can expect at the return of our Savior, the King of Kings!
In today’s passage, Jesus is comparing the temporary sadness or grief we experience today to the eternal joy that comes from seeing his return. This certainly is joy that comes from the Lord, and we have a great hope in it. This joy, however, is not just for a time. This joy will last eternally. There are certain things that time will take away from us, but this is not one of them. Jesus says that this joy is something that no one will take from us. This is a secure deposit within us that brings everlasting return. It is not as if we will rejoice at the return of our King and then see that joy dissipate over time. The magnitude of our joy in that moment will remain constant. It will not ebb and flow. That is an incredible prospect to look forward to, but there is no reason that we cannot partake in this joy now, knowing that the return of Christ is definite and secure.
We serve a God of extremes. He does not wallow in the mediocre or the lukewarm. He straddles no fences on any issue. He is certain and secure in all that He is and all that He knows and all that He does. This characteristic of his makes things certain and true not for a specific time or place but for eternity. When God imparts his joy to us, that joy is everlasting. No one can take from us what God has given us. We sometimes may forget that it is there and place our attention or affections elsewhere, but that does not change the fact that God’s gifts are eternal, including his joy. Let us seek him even today for the joy of seeing his Son return in victory. Father, thank You that the joy of the Lord is not some temporary fix but is an eternal promise.