Adulting is hard. Talking to people is hard. Being responsible is hard. Life is hard.
There’s this idea floating around in Christiandom, especially in the American church, that once you accept Christ everything will be easy: bills will be paid, relationships won’t be bumpy, your kids won’t be crazy, you won’t get upset with your spouse, and every church encounter will be the best one of your life. Anyone else ever fallen for that idea before? I spent years believing this is how the Christian life worked but would then get disappointed when things would go wrong. I would beat myself up and think of myself as a failure or I would get mad at God for abandoning me. I couldn’t quite get why things were going the way they were going.
But the good news is that I was wrong: Jesus never said life would be easy. He never encouraged people to pray a magical prayer to make all their troubles go away, in fact, he did the exact opposite.
“A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus was giving us a clear reality check. He was telling his disciples that things wouldn’t get better, in fact, things would get worse for them. Yet, he didn’t leave them hanging out to dry, he warned them that trouble and tribulation was coming so they could continue to believe in him and have peace in the midst of the chaos.
I encourage you to take a few moments to read through John 16, it’s not filled with phrases that we find on refrigerator magnets but contains harsh truths about what the disciples would soon be facing. Put yourself in the disciples’ shoes and imagine Jesus’s words were being told to you about your future. How would you feel if those words were being told to you? Then, after verses of sadness and grief and future darkness, Jesus hits his followers with the comforting words “Take heart! I have overcome the world.”
This is the silver-lining in the dark storm cloud of life. Yes, the world is going to be hard, there will always be people who don’t like you or are rude to you, things won’t go as planned, tragedies will happen, you’ll experience loss and disappointment and unpleasantness of every kind, but when those things go wrong, when things are hard, we can rejoice, we can be courageous, we can endure because Jesus, our Lord and master and Savior has overcome the world. He experienced the same feelings and disappointments and struggles that we do, and yet, he endured, overcoming everything for us.
I’m going to be honest with you, when things go wrong rejoicing isn’t my first choice. My first reaction is usually trying to figure out how I can “fix” whatever the problem is. Rarely, when things go wrong, do I immediately turn to God; it takes me a little while to get there. But that’s what he longs for us to do. We’re not supposed to maintain a fake facade of happiness because we’re Christians, but we are to have a genuine dependence and reliance upon him in the midst of the crazy. Peace and joy are available in the darkest of times because God is present and has made himself accessible to us. When we know who he is and can focus upon his presence we can weather seasons better. Whether you’re going through a particularly hard or an incredibly good season or anywhere in between, I encourage you to turn to and reach out to him today.