WHEN SORROW PRECEDES GRACE
“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Comforter/Helper (ὁ Παράκλητος) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth;” (Jn 16: 4b-12a)
As Christ says to the disciples, “sorrow has filled your hearts,” – after He told them that He needs to “go away.” And He went away, at His ascension, in order to send us a New Comforter, the Spirit of truth, Whom we now await as the great feast of Pentecost nears.
I’m thinking that “sorrow” often precedes the reception of the New Comforter, the Holy Spirit, in our hearts. When God takes away some previous source of comfort or companionship or support, and we experience loss, our “broken” heart opens up to grace in a way it couldn’t before, because it was otherwise occupied. “A sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit; a heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise.” (Ps 50/51: 17) O heavenly King, come and abide in us, even in our brokenness. Amen!