Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.” 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. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”
In this passage, Jesus is preparing His disciples for a world that is going to come crashing down around them. Within a short time, they would experience overwhelming fear, difficulties and sorrow with as they watched Jesus get arrested, mocked, scourged and crucified. He is telling His disciples how they are going to grieve, but that grief is going to be turned into a type of joy that no one can take away. In verses 23-24, of today’s reading, Jesus repeats the promise to answer the disciples’ prayers offered in His name (see John 14:13-14; 15:7,16). This is how they will have their joy made complete or full. To ask in Jesus’ name is to make a request in alignment with His will, that will further His kingdom and His glory and be best for you. It is the equivalent of asking for what Jesus would want to happen in the given situation. After we ask, in Jesus’ name, we are to receive the answer. The word “receive” in the Greek is, lambanō. It means to take hold of, receive, to catch. When our prayers are answered choose to take hold of them, catch them like a ball in a catcher’s mitt and go forward in the fullness of joy. Sometimes people catch or receive the answer and don’t take hold of it (they drop the ball) because it wasn’t the answer they wanted. They think it means getting the answered prayer in the way they think it should be. We don’t always see the big picture, so it can be difficult at times for us to receive an answer that we don’t want and be joyful about it. Let’s clarify what the Bible means by the word, “joy.” The late author, Henry Nouwen, describes joy being made full this way:
“Joy is essential to the spiritual life. Whatever we may think of or say about God, when we are not joyful, our thoughts and words cannot bear fruit. Jesus reveals to us God’s love so that his joy may become ours and that our joy may become complete. Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing - sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death - can take that love away. Joy is not the same as happiness. We can be unhappy about many things, but joy can still be there because it comes from the knowledge of God’s love for us... Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us.”
After we ask, in Jesus’ name, we are to receive the answer.
Can you relate with the disciples when circumstances in your life come crashing in on you? Maybe there are difficult situations that you have no control over yet impact your life. Do you need God’s joy in the midst of difficulties? On a scale of 1 – 10, how would you rate your joy meter? What area in your life is low on the joy meter? There’s an old rhyme that says, “Two men looked out from prison bars. One saw mud, the other saw stars.” In other words, one inmate looked down in despair, but the other one looked up in hope. Today, look up in hope. Ask God, in Jesus’ name, to help you align your heart and mind in this area of your life that lacks joy so that you can have God’s perspective and His complete joy in your situation.
Over and over in the Bible, we see this phrase: “Lift up your eyes.” (Psalm 121:2; Luke 21:28; John 4:35) It’s another way to say, “Look up. Take your eyes off your problem and put them on God.” When we look up and see how big God is, it shrinks the size of our problems so we can live out our lives experiencing God’s joy. My prayer for you today is that you will experience God’s joy and inner peace in the midst of your trials and difficulties.