Jesus repeatedly told his followers that he was going to die and be raised up again. They did not fully understand what he was talking about until after the resurrection took place, and we can certainly understand why. John records that Jesus said, “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me” (John 16:16 ESV). Without further context, this statement is pretty ambiguous.
Jesus knew that they were asking each other what he meant, so he answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (vs. 20). In an almost out of place shift, Jesus begins talking about asking: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (vs. 23-24).
This is in the context of sorrow turning to joy, of death and resurrection. Oftentimes people lamenting after a loss experience extreme isolation. They often feel as if people are with them for a time then abandon them later. But Jesus is saying there is power in asking. Specifically, asking so that our joy can be made complete. We often hesitate to ask for help but at the same time we expect people to help. Jesus is reminding his disciples that not only is it OK to ask, but they should ask for anything.
This is an important reminder for us that it’s OK to ask. It’s OK to ask for help. It’s OK to pursue joy. It’s OK to not be OK. And it’s OK to know that God loves us enough to give what we ask.