The Good News - Home

Answers Through Travail

by David A. DePra

Do ye inquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye

shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me?

Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the

world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall

be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow,

because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the

child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is

born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see

you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh

from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. (John 16:19-23)

     The disciples of Jesus had plans. They had plans for Jesus and

they had plans for themselves. They were all going to reign and

rule in the long-awaited kingdom. The Romans would be banished

and Israel would be returned to her national glory.

     This was the hope of Israel. The Messiah would make it

possible. And Jesus, well, He was the Messiah. All through the

ministry of Jesus, the disciples interpreted His words to be talking

about this kind of kingdom. And when they could not make His

words fit that idea of the kingdom, they simply could not understand.

     Jesus, of course, rarely talked about the Kingdom of God in

those terms. He spoke of a spiritual kingdom, one which was NOT

coming "with observation" -- in a way that the eyes could see. (note

Luke 17:20) But right up to the day He ascended into heaven, the

disciples just didn't get it. They continually wanted to know, "Will

You, at THIS time, restore the kingdom to Israel?" (see Acts 1:6)

     This is the atmosphere which was prevalent among the disciples

when Jesus spoke to them the above words from John. Jesus was

about to die. He had told them He was going to die and be raised.

But they simply had no capacity at the time to grasp that. It did not

fit into their plans. Jesus could NOT mean He was really going to

die, could He?

     Jesus knew their blindness to the Truth. Afterall, they had seen

three and one-half years of miracles. They had heard of Jesus'

intention of ushering in a kingdom. How could they be expected to

know anything about His coming death and resurrection?

     True to form, Jesus told them ahead of time, "that when it comes

to pass, ye may believe that I am He." (John 13:19, 14:29) Jesus

was basically saying, "I know you cannot now understand. But I am

going to tell you anyways, so that when it does happen, you will

then understand, and will know that only the Son of God could have

told you ahead of time."

A Woman in Travail

     Jesus said, "When a woman is in travail she has sorrow because

her hour has come." In other words, when a woman is giving birth,

her mind is on the pain. It HAS to be on the pain, because it is so

overwhelming. There is no escape from it. But once the child is

born, the pain ceases. Her focus is then no longer on the pain. It

is on the child. She now sees, and understands, the purpose of the


     Now, Jesus is not saying that when a woman gives birth she

doesn't know why she is in pain. Of course, she knows a child is

going to be born. But He is drawing an analogy. He is saying that

just as a woman knows that her pain is worth it, and is not useless,

so will the pain be that the disciples are about to experience. When

"the child" is born out of the pain they are about to face, THEN it

will be as plain to them as it is when a child is born, that everything

was worth it.

     This is, of course, a tremendous teaching for US. When we are

plunged into a trial, it is only natural that our focus is on the pain. We

cannot SEE what is going to born of that pain. What is going to be

born of the pain isn't there yet -- it isn't yet born. So our pain is

pretty much all we have -- all that we CAN focus upon. But Jesus is

telling us that despite all of that -- there IS more. There is something

that is being birthed through these things. And even if we cannot

presently see it, or understand it, we can take heart that the day will

come when we will both see and understand.

A Life, Not Just Facts

     Jesus had given the disciples the FACTS. He had told them,

right out, that He was going to be delivered into the hands of men,

crucified, and then raised from the dead. (see Matt. 16:21) But

they either didn't understand, or reacted against it. One time Peter

replied, "Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee." (Matt.


     Here we see the graciousness of God in giving us the facts. But

here we also see why those facts usually don't do us much good,

at least until the reality of those facts comes to pass.

     You could tell a woman who is about to give birth all about the

child which will be born. You could describe the child and even try

to tell her the joy she will feel. But those are only facts. It isn't until

the actual birth takes place that there will be a REAL child there.

And only then will the woman say, "You were right. But now I know

by experience."

     God sometimes tells us His specific plan and purpose. But

other times He tells us nothing. Either way, the facts are NOT the

reality. It is only when the reality begins to take place that we really

grasp what God meant by what He said.

     If you are a Christian, and plunged into a great trial, you may

know all of the Bible verses which give you the facts about why God

allows trials. You may even know that something will be born

through that travail and pain. But when you are IN the trial, it is only

natural for your focus to be dominated by the pain. Yet it helps to

know that there will be the birth of something out of it. It helps to

know that there is a purpose which will, later, give you joy.


     If there is one question we ask God the most, that question is

this: WHY? One word: Why? Why have you allowed this to

happen to me, God? Why are things like this?

     The need to know WHY is natural. If we knew WHY, then we

could "connect the dots" and thereby justify our faith. Things would

make sense to us. And it really would be easier to believe and

trust God if we only had the answer to the question, "Why?"

     But God usually won't tell us WHY. Usually not. At least not at

the beginning of a trial. And sometimes never. So let's look at

this. WHY won't God tell us WHY?

     Yikes!   We are asking WHY God won't tell us WHY!?   But this

really isn't a bad question. In fact, THAT question is one which God

does answer. It is actually answered in the above passage from

John, as well as in many other places in the Word of God.

     Let's, for instance, take the above passage. Suppose the

woman who is in travail asked the question, "Why?" Suppose she

asked, "Why am I in such pain?" It might help if someone said to

her, "Because you are having a baby." But even if she accepted

that answer, it would not give her anything more than information.

She would still be in pain. And she would still be unable to see

what kind of child.

     Now notice: Once the child is born, the woman has more than

just information. She has what? She has the child. She has the

answer -- not in the form of information, but in the form of the living

result of her pain. Now she understands, not intellectually nor

emotionally, but REALLY. She is holding in her arms the life which

had been inside of her, and out of sight.

     This is why Jesus said, "In that day you will ask me no question."

When a child is born a woman doesn't ask any more questions

about the pain which preceded it. Likewise, when our trial has

brought to birth what God is after through it, we don't ask anymore

questions about WHY God allowed the trial. We see the birth which

came out of the trial. And it is enough.


     Often, we cannot understand what God is doing. Get that. We

CANNOT. It isn't a matter of God withholding information from us, or

of God playing a "cat and mouse" game with us. God doesn't tell

us simply because we CANNOT understand them. Period. God's

love for us, in those cases, dictates that SILENCE be His answer.

     Now, if we had no revelation of the nature and character of God,

this would be a bit much for God to expect us to swallow. But even

though God does not usually explain to us what He is doing, or why

He is doing it, He does reveal HIMSELF to us. Thus, even though

we cannot understand what God is doing, we can nevertheless trust

Him. We may not understand. But we can place our trust in the One

who does.

     This is what God means when He says that He will never give us

a trial which is more than we can bear. He is not talking about

whether we have some kind of personal emotional strength to be

able to stand in the midst of trial. He is talking about whether the

demands of our trial will exceed the revelation He has given us. We

can be sure that if we are in a trial, that we know enough about God

to BELIEVE, and to STAND in faith.

     Now, if we will believe and stand, something amazing happens

down the line. We discover that what we believed about God is

true. Except that instead of just faith, we now have something more.

We have a child. Something gets born in us which was not there


     The purpose of any trial is not that we might come to understand

WHY the trial took place. No. The purpose of a trial is that through

the trial God might conform us to the image of Christ. God wants us

to become something. We cannot become something through a

trial by merely understanding why it is happening to us. We

become by believing and standing. By dying and being raised.

Then what is born is not an answer. It is Christ Himself, matured in


Seeing God

     We usually want answers FROM God. God wants to give us

HIMSELF. We usually want to know WHY. God wants us to know

HIM. We usually want to understand what is going to be born. God

wants us to possess the birth itself. There are times when God

cannot tell us WHY. These are the times of travail. But when the

child is born things change. In that day, we will ask Him no

question. That's because we will see HIM.

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear

what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall

be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (I John 3:2)

     This verse is talking about the resurrection. But it has general

application for NOW. We ARE the sons of God through the new

birth. But it does not yet appear what we shall be -- that is -- what

we are becoming through our growth in Christ is not yet made fully

manifest. It can't be because we are still living in a fallen creation.

But when Jesus appears, we shall see that everything was working

towards making us "like Him." And in that day, we will ask Him no

question. For when we see Him, we will possess all the answers.

Job said, "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear: but now

my eyes see You. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust

and ashes." (Job 42:5-6) Job had heard and believed many TRUE

things about God. But now he saw God Himself. And when that

happened, Job stopped asking, "Why?"

     Job saw God through the only means it is possible to see God:

By means of travail. Only then can a birth come forth.

The Good News - Home

Hit Counter