“Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you” (John 16:22).
DO GOODBYES BRING TEARS TO YOUR EYES? They do mine. I’m afraid I know no moderation when it comes to love. The things and the people that I love, I love with all of my heart, and it is a sore trial to say goodbye to any of them, from my favorite homely objects to my favorite places to my favorite people. In this world of loving and losing what we love, tears are a fact of life.
I have often imagined what it must have been like to know and love Jesus personally during His earthly sojourn. There would have been no way to love Him and not have your heart ripped apart when He left you. So we’re not surprised to hear Him saying to His disciples, “Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.” There is a great truth in these words, a truth that we need to hear as much as His original disciples did: in Christ, there are never any tears except those that look forward to a greater joy. The tears are not to be avoided (we shouldn’t even try), but they are to be seen as a part of something much greater than the grief itself. Peter wrote, “Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
Imagine the scene at Jesus’ ascension. Having had a final conversation with His disciples, He had to leave them. Luke says, “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven’ ” (Acts 1:9–11).
As Jesus left these dear friends and disappeared from their view, there would have been tears streaming down their upturned faces. But Jesus would not have spared them this sorrow or scolded their broken hearts. For some tears are the tears of love. And the tears of love are ever the tears of gratitude. And of hope.
“I will not say do not weep — for not all tears are an evil” (J. R. R. Tolkien).