Scripture: John 16:20 (Jesus said) Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. 22 So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
Observation: Jesus had been dropping hints that he would soon die, but would rise again. As a result, his disciples would experience intense grief/pain, but then great joy at seeing him again after the resurrection.
Application: This coming week is Thanksgiving, which is one of my favorite holidays. I see people I don’t see often – especially my son Nick who is flying home from college in North Carolina. But there are many others as well. There’s a lot of laughter, conversation, football – and food. LOTS of food.
But for many people this Thanksgiving will not be as joyous. The special nature of the season, and all the memories associated with it, can make the absence of deceased loved ones all the more painful. And, unlike Jesus’ original disciples, we have to wait far more than three days to see our deceased loved ones again.
Still others will grieve not because of a death, but because of strained or severed relationships resulting from disagreement, separation, divorce, or other reasons. It’s hard to watch all the idealized images of family on TV, Internet, or print media when your own family is a bit of a mess.
So today we remember those who will be grieving this Thanksgiving. Most will put on a brave face. They will do their best to participate in the usual ways, but on the inside their hearts will be heavy. Others of us would do well to take a moment to offer a word of encouragement to such persons in our midst. A small gesture of kindness can go a long way.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, comfort those who grieve this Thanksgiving week. Amen.