The third time is a charm, they say, and it was for me. The third time in labor and delivery and I knew what to expect, knew the pains would come and go and be replaced by the unutterable joy of a child.
When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (John 16:21-22)
Jesus said that to his disciples in his “farewell discourse,” his final words to the disciples at the Last Supper. It’s the discourse that begins “Let not your hearts be troubled” (14:1) and ends with “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (16:33). He continues: “Father, the hour has come.” That is, “the hour” of delivery. “The hour” of labor on the Cross that will lead to new life for all.
Easter morning, we will wake up to the truth of those words. The pain and anguish of the Cross is rolled away with the stone from the tomb! My husband likes to tell how when our first child was delivered, my hours of screaming and moaning dissolved into a beatific gaze at the baby and “that wasn’t so bad!”
Grief will be replaced with joy.
Death will be swallowed up in victory.
Jesus was Mary’s child on earth, but now we all, by the power of the same Spirit, can bear Christ into the world. I pray he will be born anew in you, in the months ahead. And if the delivery involves birth pangs, offer them up to the One whose life guarantees a joyful ending. “You will be sorrowful,” he said, “but your sorrow will turn into joy” (John 16:20)!
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” —Romans 15:13
Have a Blessed Easter!
This article was first published on Come into the Word in March, 2016.
© 2016 Sarah Christmyer
Flickr photo from Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.
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