It’s hard to see through painful things.
When we realize that someone dear to us is about to be taken away from us, it’s like our tears distort our vision of the circumstances. We only see the hurt that’s right in front of us and not the comfort, peace, or joy on the other side.
In this extended account of Jesus’ teaching in John 14-16, Jesus is trying to prepare his followers for His pending departure. And the biggest preparation He made was to promise them something better.
Jesus begins this lesson by explaining some things:
I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, “Where are you going?” But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. (John 16.4b-6)
They really didn’t need to know these things while He was sticking around, but, now that He is about to return to the Father, they seem more upset that He is leaving than curious as to where He is going. He knows their hearts are heavy.
But look at the important words He speaks next:
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16.7)
Do you see it? Jesus is trying to get them to see beyond their feelings of loss. He points to the better things to come. So… what is that?
It’s the Holy Spirit that will come and live within each of their hearts in a very powerful way. But the promise cannot be fulfilled until Jesus has gone away.
But still… He assures them it will be better than what they know.
Jesus loves these people that have walked with Him so very many miles. He Has seen them struggle for understanding and wrestle with some very hard truths. He has seen their eyes filled with wonder as they reached back into the basket again and again until all of these thousands of people were completely satisfied with their meal. They had helped pull the grave clothes from Lazarus and tasted the wine at the wedding.
But he assures them of more.
He is leaving, but He will leave with them a promise of better things.
I don’t know what the pain in your life may be today. Maybe it’s the painful reality of a loved one soon departing. Maybe it’s the inevitable end of something you’ve fought so very hard to retain. Maybe it’s just the crashing in upon you by the reality that those sweet moments you have shared simply cannot last forever in this life.
But for you—if indeed you are a follower of Jesus—there is always this great promise of better things yet to come.
It doesn’t make the hurt go away. But it does remind us that the hurt is, even at its very worst… temporary.