I think we all look for something, someone steady. When bad times come, we search frantically, up-ending our couch cushions, fuzz collecting under our fingernails. We’re looking for something we can count on. Something to give us reason to hope.
When good times come, we laugh, then we wonder how long it will last before the next plunge comes. So we try to remember what will carry us through if the worst comes again.
I imagine Jesus’ disciples might have felt some of this desperate energy as they tried to understand Jesus’ words in John 16. He would be leaving them soon to be with the Father? “Oh, no, no. This is not good at all! What will we do then?” they must have wondered. Jesus had been that someone steady in their lives for three years — just long enough to get a little comfortable. And Jesus had been an exciting, invigorating, we-don’t-know-what’s-next-but-it-will-be-good kind of steady.
Psalm 102, verses 26b and 27, describe this same steadiness in our Father God, as the One who “will remain,” who is “the same” always, whose “years have no end,” and who will not “wear out like a garment.”
But Jesus’ talk of going away, out of this world? Was Jesus as steady as the disciples had come to believe? Their stomachs must have flipped painfully, but then, looking into His compassionate and confident eyes, they heard him say:
You will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also 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 16:20-22, ESV).
They believed Him enough to say, “Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God” (vs. 30).
Jesus answer to the disciples’ bumbling attempts to trust Him in that confusing moment has been often-remembered for 2000 years since.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (vs. 33).
May the Steady One teach us how to take heart, and how to still our frantically searching, grasping fingers. Because He promises that someday we will forget even the worst of times in this world. Just like the woman gazing at her newborn child, while the shooting pains of labor ease and her gaping body closes at last.