20 I assure you that you will cry and lament, and the world will be happy. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman gives birth, she has pain because her time has come. But when the child is born, she no longer remembers her distress because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. 22 In the same way, you have sorrow now; but I will see you again, and you will be overjoyed. No one takes away your joy.
While writing this devotional, I put on my holey sweater — that is literally a sweater with holes in it, and not a reference to a divine connection. My blue sweater causes me to remember my Dad, because blue was his favorite color, too. Dad had a sweater just like this one with holes in it, and when he passed, I kept it. For sure, this sweater has seen better days. Despite my best efforts, moths ate holes right through it in multiple places, so I don’t wear it in public anymore. Nonetheless, this holey sweater is my favorite–it brings me quiet comfort in remembering my Dad.
For the moment, my grief feels palpable. All Saints’ Day and Veterans Day have just passed and I am further reminded of loved ones who are not here and of days gone by.
What is it about this year? Are we not bereft as our losses seem to be mounting up? This year, in particular, so much loss holds us and puts our grief front and center.
So when Jesus talked to anxious disciples about the end times, I can imagine that their fear of losing him was palpable. Like that anxious woman in labor, we struggle with the pain that is right before us. Even though we have faith that the goodness of God’s promises are coming, there is something unseen that keeps us fearing the unknown. The pain of birth and loss keeps us closely tied to the fears of this world.
Although none of us knows when the end will be, Jesus gives quiet assurance that there will be joy in heaven when we are reunited. Jesus’ words remind us that there will be joy in our holy reunion. I think of Dad and that sweater and of Jesus. I have an image of Dad in his blue holey sweater snapping his fingers to a silly song in my parents’ kitchen…. and solemn tears slip across my cheek. But then I know that these tears will give way to tears of joy, because someday we will dance together in our Blue Holy Sweaters in heaven. I think Jesus has one, too. I’d like to think that He and Dad dance together in them all the time.
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
As I write, I am remembering All Saints’ Day and those friends and family who have gone home to be with Jesus. Everyone has a story of loss. We don’t leave this world without loss. In the quiet days of November and the changing season, what calls you to remember your losses and loved ones who have gone home to be with our Lord? Beyond tears of pain, what causes you to remember your loved ones with tears of joy? Reach out and share your story of grief with another Christian today.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, I struggle with these earthly losses. Thank you for holding me close when I am grieving. I know that there will be joy in heaven, but for the time being, I hurt in a hurting world. Talk me through my grief, dear Lord. Only in you do I find the comfort that brings lasting peace. Amen.