Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Troubles (John 16)

My life isn't perfect. Shocker! How about yours?

I have troubles, problems, issues, trials, battles, etc. How about you?

Too often we get caught in the false-belief that if we believe in God and follow Jesus Christ our lives should be great - everything should always work out, nothing should ever hurt us, we should never struggle with anything.

It's interesting that we all get caught in that mentality (and we do!). In fact, we can get so deep in that mindset that we find ourselves worshiping God more so that our life will work out the way we want it to and less because God simply is all-powerful, all-knowing, love and grace. Or, how about the opposite? You know when you haven't been to church in a while and you've been missing your quiet time, you haven't read your Bible...and then something bad happens, and you think, "If only I had done those things, I never would have blown a tire on the way to work."

It's silly but true that we think this way. And yet, Jesus told us exactly the opposite would be true.

As Jesus was on his way to the cross, he took time to explain to the disciples that they were going to have trouble in this world (John 16:33). He didn't mince words. He told them they would be persecuted as He was persecuted. He told them they would be opposed as He was opposed. He even compared it to childbirth - and I would like to tell you personally as someone who experienced 23 hours of that with my firstborn - that's for real, and I'm pretty sure Jesus didn't know anything then about epidurals.

Jesus told the disciples He was going away, it was going to hurt, and the world wasn't going to be nice about it. But then he said, "But take heart, for I have overcome the world!" (John 16:33).

Now I know that often in the moments of our deepest hurt that seems little consolation. I've been in places where I pleaded with God, "I don't care about later, just take away the pain now." I've been angry with God over suffering in this world. And yet, the Gospel (the Good News!) of our faith is that God didn't sit back and ignore our pain. God doesn't revel in our pain and see it as character-building. God did something about it for all-time in Jesus Christ. And though we wait eagerly, at times on our hands and knees and through our tears, for Jesus to return so we can get to the joy part, we know with absolute certainty that it is coming.

How do we know? Because Jesus went ahead and paid the price and paved the road. He did the dirty work. And so we wait patiently, though the mountains fall and the earth shakes, we wait and hold onto hope. We even rejoice, because no one can take away what Jesus has done for us!

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