In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus tells his apostles, “I still have many things to say to you, but they would be too much for you to bear now. However, when the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth.” (John 16:12-13) Jesus was speaking of the ongoing revelation of truth about God. In reflecting upon this passage, I was struck by how it can just as easily apply to how God works in each of our lives.
Unlike some people, I don’t look back at childhood as an idyllic time. I know that going through it was hard. Yes, in retrospect, some of the problems seem small, but they weren’t small at the time. I know that today, despite my best efforts, my children have difficulties that seem huge to them. Being three or five or seven or nine or fifteen is every bit as difficult as being in one’s twenties or thirties. Yes, the problems change, but the struggle remains. We always need God’s help to get through.
When I was very young, I foolishly thought being an adult meant life got easier! While in some ways it did, in most cases the challenges only increased. Now, I realize that as long as I live on this earth, the problems and struggles will continue. I look at people in their sixties and seventies and beyond and see that they, too, still face adversity. It is not only the hardship of growing old physically. They still must deal with the difficulties of relationships and spiritual trials. Life really doesn’t get any easier. If anything, it gets harder.
This is where Jesus’ words ring so true. “I still have many things to say to you, but they would be too much for you to bear now.” None of us can bear the truth of our futures all at once. What if you were a child of ten, just beginning to dream of your life as an adult, and you saw your future and realized that very few of those dreams would come true? Many other good things might happen to you in your life, but you wouldn’t have the perspective to appreciate that fact. You would only experience the pain of failed expectations. Or if on the day one became engaged to be married, one saw all the difficulties one would face in the course of married life? I doubt many people would go through with the ceremony! By the same token, imagine if the day you became pregnant, that whole child’s life was played out for you. All the challenges of being a parent would be laid out all at once. It would indeed be far too much to bear.
Jesus knows this. Life is meant to be lived one day at a time, one lesson at a time, one struggle at a time. The joys are meant to balance out the sorrows. At times, we may be stretched to the very limits of our resources. It may all seem like too much to bear, but Jesus knows what burdens we can handle with His help. Every difficulty serves a purpose. Each step in life leads to the next. Each challenge teaches us more that will help us when the next test comes. Through it all, Jesus is with us, and He sends us his Holy Spirit to guide us. We come closer to the truth of life and the knowledge of God working in our lives one step at a time.