(Author's Note: We have come to the end of another school year and, thus, to the end of these devotions for a few months. WftW will start up again on August 20th. Until then, feel free to visit the archives. Have a wonderful summer! Jim)
“Jesus went on to say, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.’ At this, some of his disciples said to one another, ‘What does he mean by saying, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,” and “Because I am going to the Father”?’ They kept asking, ‘What does he mean by “a little while”? We don’t understand what he is saying.’
Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, ‘Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me”? Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 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.’” (John 16:16-22 NIV)
I have said a lot of good-byes in my life. It started when I worked at a summer camp while I was in college. For 12 weeks I worked with a group of college students as a counselor. We saw each other everyday. We worked together, hiked together, and ate together. Then, at the end of the summer, we said good-bye. I have never seen any of them again.
In my 30 years of campus ministry, every spring I say good-bye to a group of graduating seniors. I have known them from one to six years depending on their length of involvement in my ministry and have seen them weekly, if not more. Then they graduate and are gone. Many I will see on occasion, but some I never see again. They move on in their lives and we lose touch.
In this passage, Jesus is saying good-bye to His disciples. They were confused and grieved by His words. The man with whom they had traversed the desert and shared life with for the past three years was telling them He was about to depart. While they struggled with His words, He encouraged them by telling them they would see Him again. Their separation, He told them, was not permanent. And they clung to that promise throughout the rest of their lives.
Good-byes are always hard, but they are a part of this life. Yet the promise Jesus made to His disciples holds true for us as well. In Him, good-byes are always temporary. Whether it be to a student graduating, a good friend moving, or parent dying, hope in Jesus assures that good-bye is never permanent.
Today, know that for those of us whose hope is in Jesus, “good-bye” will one day again become “hello.”
© Jim Musser 2013