“In a little while”: Waiting with anticipation

By Steve Witmer

“In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me . . . because I’m going to the Father.” (John 16:16-17)

The phrase “in a little while” invokes childhood memories of anticipated but delayed celebrations or events.

“When are we going to get to grandmas’ house?”

“In a little while!”

“In a little while” always seemed to indicate that I needed to wait, that I needed to patiently endure this season, and cling to the expectation of a better time yet to come.

As I pen this article, although feeling well, my wife and I are midway through a 14-day COVID-19 self-isolation period because we were out of country. Yesterday I sat on my secluded deck and reflected on all that I am currently unable to do, and I grieved those temporary losses. Quickly, though, my mind shifted to the end of this homebound isolation, and the joys that await me “in a little while.”

You see, in a little while I can hug my grandchildren, do our own grocery shopping and go for a cautious walk around the neighborhood (remembering social distancing!). In a little while, the hopeful expectation which my soul longs for will be fully realized!

The confusion and the uncertainty caused by Jesus’ statement must have been deeply troubling for his disciples. Can you imagine your questions? “What did Jesus mean by that?” “Why is he leaving us at this crucial time?” “What should we do now?” “What about us?”

As contemporary believers, we have a distinct advantage of knowing how the Easter story ends. The passion narrative includes that sorrowful last supper, the nighttime arrest of Jesus, the trumped charges, the mock trial, Pilate’s ultimate decision to crucify the Son of God and the Saviour’s burial in a borrowed tomb. We must remember that the disciples of Jesus lived this agony in real time. Did they remember his comforting words, “and then after a little while you shall see me,” or did their sorrowful hearts blind them to his remarkable promise?

Then came the morning that glorious first day of the week when the empty tomb gave silent witness to the Master’s resurrection! The disciples saw him and became eyewitnesses to the miracle of sacrificial and redemptive love. This glorious love story continues to be written today in every nation, in every language and with every ethnicity. The author of our faith writes us into his grand redemption story, including us in his royal adoption. We are the grateful sons and daughters of the King of all kings!

“In a little while . . .”

Perhaps for you, this is been a perplexing season, where waiting has raised far more questions than providing answers. Dear friend, allow the Lord to speak comfort into your storm-tossed heart. Hear the Lord’s words afresh, spoken to you personally: “After a little while you will see me.” Cling to his faithful promise to personally come to your aid, to meet your daily needs, and to wipe away all your silent tears and hidden fears. We trust in his words because we have the evidence of an empty tomb and the Easter narrative to encourage and to inspire us during these challenging pastoral days! He is risen indeed!


Focus on the Family Canada is here for you and your congregation. If we can be of any help during this season of self-isolation and social distancing, please contact our team at 1.800.661.9800 or email [email protected]. We have also put together a website filled with valuable articles, broadcasts and resources to help you and your church family during COVID-19. Learn more at FocusOnTheFamily.ca/COVID19.


Steve and Becky Witmer have served together for more than 35 years in a variety of ministry roles. After five years with YWAM, they served in roles such as senior pastor, missionary director, and pastoral care coordinator for their associated network of churches. Sensing that they were entering a new season of life after 14 years as senior pastors in their church, Steve and Becky transitioned to the role of associate pastors for the same congregation. This new role enables them to invest time and energy into both missions and the care of pastors and emerging leaders. They serve as contract retreat leaders with Kerith Retreats, a ministry of Focus on the Family Canada.