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. John 16:21 (NIV)
Daily Devotional Series
Grace & Truth Day 14
Reading: John 16
When Jesus tells this to his disciples, he’s giving them a two-fold warning. 1) He’s going to die and they are going to feel the agony and 2) When he’s gone (again) “the world” is going to come after them and there will be pain. This echoes his words in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-12): “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
For many, many years, Christians held a certain status in our society. Prayers were offered at community events. Religious holidays were honored and revered. Church news was featured in local papers. The 10 Commandments were displayed in courts of law. Clergy members were held in high regard and respect. Clergy even benefit from federal tax laws for almost 100 years. The result was that being a Christian would be very comfortable. There was no real societal challenge. You had to travel overseas to see “persecution.” When we look around now, we can see that it is a different world. Everything is being challenged. The symptoms have been there for a looooooooong time. Mainline denominations (including ours) have seen a decline for over 40 years (older than me.)
But in the warning is also a two-fold promise. 1) The grave can’t hold HIm and can’t hold you and 2) It’s worth it, like a mom going through all the pain to hold the newborn baby. There is always hope on the other side of diversity.
The greatest times of growth in Christian history has always been under adversity, never when its been comfortable. In times of adversity we hold onto God more desperately. We rely on the Holy Spirit, the promise of Jesus, to fill us with power, to guide and lead us. We dig deeper into God’s Word creating strong roots (Psalm 1) replacing the roots we have put into man made institutions. We understand life and death in Christ. We, the saved, go to those who are perishing. Saving lives is worth giving up our comfort.