By Mike Gilland
Jesus told the disciples in John 16:7 something that has challenged me personally for years.
“It is for your good that I am going away…”
When I first read that passage, I could almost hear the disciples’ reactions. “What? You’re leaving us? And that is good?…” That statement had to boggle their minds as they tried to get their brains around His words. After all, they had committed their hearts and lives to Jesus, and their desire was to be with Him forever. They wanted Him to establish His throne, and they wanted to rule on His right and left. How could it be good for Him to leave them?
I have found that such bits of news from God are never easy to take – those promptings in which you sense a change coming, or you are given a prognosis that affects you or a family member or news that your job is changing, and you suddenly realize that God has allowed circumstances that seem to be ANYTHING but good. In that moment, it might be a challenge to remember that God has not forsaken us and that He promised to never leave us.
So, how do we reconcile those times? I believe we have to listen to Jesus – completely and make sure that we didn’t “check out” when we heard the first part of the story. That is so easy to do. Fear grips us, and our first responses can leave us in a state of despair at what looks and feels like bad news. Psalm 112:7 helps me in those moments – in that passage, the Psalmist declares that the righteous will not fear bad news, for his heart is held steadfast by God.
In the case of the disciples in John 16, there was another part that they HAD to hear, and I’m betting that, at least initially, they didn’t perceive all of what Jesus was telling them. The ESV Bible (my favorite) says…
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7 ESV).
What had Jesus promised them? The only way the Holy Spirit would come and dwell in them was contingent on Jesus’ leaving them physically and ascending to heaven. They surely couldn’t comprehend that it would be better for them to have the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit (the “Helper”) IN THEM than it was to have Jesus WITH THEM. But Jesus said that it was “to their advantage.” Their lives would be BETTER with the Holy Spirit’s presence.
The disciples had to believe that. We must do the same. When the Lord allows us to face a valley, we must remember that He is with us, that He has given us His Spirit to lead us, to guide us, and to remind us of every word that Jesus spoke.
In that moment, we too must remember that it was for our good that He went away and sent us the Helper.
Mike Gilland is Operations Manager for The Shepherd Radio Network, a group of radio stations in Florida that features the “Christian Teach/Talk” format. Mike hosts a daily talk radio show in the 2 PM hour called “Afternoons with Mike”, talking to local pastors and newsmakers. In Orlando, The Shepherd is heard on WIWA, AM 1270. In addition to his broadcast experience, Mike spent 36 years in full-time ministry as a pastor and worship leader. As a guitarist, Mike performs at concerts, restaurants, private parties, etc. He is married to Cindy, the father of four grown children and grandfather to seven grandchildren.