“Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of the child that has been born into the world. Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy from you.” (John 16:21-22)
My wife and I have our first child due this month. As “our hour” approaches, this passage has been on my mind (and I know it’s been on Maranda’s). Even some of the medical advice we have received about preparing for child labor has emphasized the focus on the precious child that is the whole reason and goal of a mother’s work. Some mothers take their minds off the pain of a contraction by focusing on an ultrasound picture of the baby. They call this a “focal point.” And while I will by no means be the one doing the hardest work when our hour comes, the hope and delight of the outcome will be the motivation for us (all 3 of us) enduring the process.
Jesus uses these insights into the pain but reward of childbirth as an analogy for what He was about to suffer in His death. Why was He able to endure? Because of “the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2) - to be able to say “It is finished” (John 19:30) and experience the glory of defeating death in His resurrection. And even though His friends would mourn his loss (experiencing pain), the joy of witnessing His resurrection would more than make up for their temporary suffering.
This principle of anticipating the joy after the pain runs deep in the Scriptures. Read Psalm 30. Indulge the power of 2 Corinthians 4-5. Skim the Book of Job…or the life of Joseph. We will suffer…grieve…experience pain. But there is joy set before us. So make it your focal point. And endure.
To His Glory,