Transformation, not substitution.

I was grabbed by the John 16 v 23-30 reading from last weekends lectionary. I love the plain speaking of Jesus about His Father. It’s so helpful here to see how our Heavenly Father answers joyfully……and how He provides lovingly.

I spoke about how God brings joy to our lives, not by substitution, but by transformation.

Just as a young mother giving birth. The arrival of the child sees immense pain, giving way to great delight. In birth, God does not substitute something else to relieve the mother’s pain. Instead what is there already is transformed.

Every parent knows what it is like to have an unhappy child because a toy is broken or a friend has gone home. The parent can do at least one of two things: substitute something else for the broken toy or absent friend. If the parent always gets a new toy for the child each time a toy is broken, that child will grow up expecting every problem to be solved by substitution. If Mum always phones another friend and invites him or her over, the child will grow up expecting people to come to his rescue whenever there is a crisis. The result either way is a spoiled child who will not be able to cope with reality.

The way of substitution for solving problems is the way of immaturity. The way of transformation is the way of faith and maturity. We cannot mature emotionally or spiritually if somebody is always replacing our broken toys. Jesus did not say that the mother’s pain was replaced by joy, but that the sorrow was transformed into joy.
Here in John 16 – there is a promise to believe: “that your joy may be full!” verse 24.

There is a position to claim, as described in verse 33. “As disciples we might have peace in a world of challenges.” In this all we are in Christ, and therefore we can overcome the world and all of its struggles and hatred. George Morrison defined peace as “the possession of adequate resources.” In Jesus Christ, we have are assured that we have all the resources that we need.
“In me” is the key. In ourselves, we have little but “in Christ” we have all that we need.

Every believer is either overcome or an overcomer. 1 John 5 v 4 says it this way:- “And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith!”
There is joy when we permit God to transform sorrow into joy. There is joy when we seek God in prayer, and there is joy when we know what it is to overcoming in this world.