When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. (John 16:21-22)
I’ve never given birth. I think we men, and everyone who has never borne the pain of childbirth–we have to concede to mothers the definitive interpretation of John 16:21.
What about when the bishop suddenly decides to re-assign you to a place 70 minutes away from your mother, who lives in an assisted-living facility (which right now is across the street)? How about when ecclesiastical authority arbitrarily wounds the heart of the woman who endured the pangs of childbirth so that you could come into the world?
Not to mention tearing you away from the ministry that you feel like you have just begun, and the people whom you feel like you have just gotten to know and love, and the routines that you have just gotten used to?
And all of this for no evident reason?
So I guess we all have our share in the agony which our Lord uses as His metaphor in John 16:21.
Nonetheless, I have it on good authority: the pain of childbirth does end. This bitter strife doesn’t last forever.
Our loving brother Jesus, very much alive and well, ascended somewhere beyond this veil of tears. He dwells in a place where everything makes perfect sense to everybody. And you never have to say goodbye. And your mother never has to suffer just because your bishop is apparently a mean person.
What makes us Christians is that we believe in that place, the place where the Lord Jesus now lives. And we know that, when we cling to Him, we can find our way there.