Your Soul Needs a Future

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God planted eternity in our hearts so that we would not stop seeking life beyond ourselves.

Jesus tried to speak of this to His disciples not long before He died: “In a little while you will see Me no more, and then after a little while you will see Me.”

Their confusion is so great they pester Him with questions, and He tries again: “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.”

A woman giving birth to a child has pain; but when her baby is born she forgets the pain…

Really?

When our first child was born, we went through a class called Lamaze. In those days they would not use the word pain, because pain sounds like kind of a downer. They said the mother-to-be might experience some discomfort. Husbands were to be “coaches”; I was to coach Nancy so that she didn’t have pain. Coaching mostly consisted of telling Nancy to breathe. The goal was to use no drugs or pain medication, just cleansing breaths. It wasn’t clear to me how my telling Nancy to breathe – which she had been doing pretty much her whole life – would prevent pain when an object the size of a bowling ball was coming out of her body.

Nancy was in labor twelve hours. They had to give her Pitocin several times, which made it much more intense. The baby was turned the wrong way so that the hardest part of her skull pressed against the most tender part of Nancy’s spine — I remember the nurse said the baby was “sunny-side up,” which sounded cheery to me, but didn’t perk Nancy up at all.

For eleven hours I massaged her lower spine with a tennis ball and encouraged her to breathe. I was bent over; my back was aching; my hands were sore; I never complained. She will never know what I went through to have that baby.

The worst moment came when the doctor reached inside my wife’s body and physically wrenched the baby 180 degrees. Nancy let out a yell I will never forget. I was the coach, and I knew I had to do something. “Nancy, are you experiencing some discomfort?” She actually still remembers that.

Jesus’ point is not that a woman can’t bring the pain to memory. His point is that the joy of giving life outweighs the pain of giving birth.

What starts in pain, ends in joy.

The disciples say, “What does He mean? What does all this ‘in a little while’ stuff mean?”

Jesus says, “I will tell you. Here’s how it is in this world now that I have come…”

To paraphrase a line from a movie: There will be great pain, and there will be great joy. In the end, joy wins. So if joy has not yet won, it is not yet the end.

Jesus is crucified. The pain is overwhelming – not the end. Jesus is risen – the joy is overwhelming.

This characterized the church. Followers of Jesus were beaten and rejoiced; they were put in prison and sang songs; they lived in poverty and were joyfully generous.

Jesus was right – no one could take away their joy.

Watch the Video for Soul Keeping:

Excerpted with permission from Soul Keeping by John Ortberg, copyright 2014.

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Your Turn

During times of great pain in our soul, it’s so important to remember that the time is coming when no one will be able to take away our joy! Join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily




John Ortberg

John Ortberg is senior pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California. He is the bestselling author of Who is this Man, When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box, The Life You've Always Wanted and If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat. John and his wife, Nancy, have three grown children.

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