SCRIPTURE: John 16:33
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.
By Anne Peterson
We all do it. We face something really difficult in our lives, and we ask, “Why?” Why is this happening now? Or why is this happening to me? It’s normal to ask this question, but the problem is, we seem to stay there. And when we are asking that question, peace alludes us.
“I’ve told you these things.”
When we turn to God’s Word, something happens inside of us. It’s the same thing that happened when Jesus would speak to his disciples. They would get glimpses of another world. Being human, we get wrapped up living in this world. And we sometimes forget there is a spiritual realm. Paul referenced this as he told us where our focus should be. Paul said we should fix our eyes on what we don’t see because what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).
This world has trouble.
John 16:33 tells us in this world, we will have trouble. Peter told us we shouldn’t be surprised when we face difficult times. That we shouldn’t think it’s strange (1 Peter 4:12-13). He explains as we participate in suffering, later, we’ll be overjoyed when Christ’s glory is revealed. I didn’t always see that connection.
When I recently read in Peter about suffering, it confirmed all of it again. Peter asked, how is it to our credit if when we’re beaten for doing wrong and we take it patiently? But if we suffer when we’re doing what is right and we take it patiently, that pleases God (1 Peter 2:20). There is a purpose in suffering.
Then, how can we take heart?
If this world was all there was, it would be disheartening. We’re born, we suffer, and then we die. The end. But Jesus told the disciples to take heart because he overcame the world. When we accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, our sins were forgiven. But at that moment, we were also appropriated Christ’s righteousness, and we became joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).
There is more going on than meets our physical eyes. There is an enemy of our souls who was once a beautiful angel named Lucifer. He wanted to be higher than God, so God cast Satan out of heaven, and he took 1/3 of the angels with him, which are known as demons. Satan loves to discourage Christians. He does it by telling us lies. Lies such as, “God doesn’t care about you. If God cared about you, why does he let so many bad things happen to you?” The short answer is we suffer in this world because it’s a fallen world. When sin entered the world, everything changed.
One day things will be different.
A day is coming when our tears will be wiped away. A day when God will create a new heaven and a new earth. We will live without the presence of evil. And for me, the most exciting thing is that one day I will be able to look right into the face of the one who sacrificed his life for me. That one thought has kept me going through some pretty dark times.
Those of us who have accepted Jesus will no longer suffer. In heaven, there will be no more diseases. No more brokenness. No strained relationships. Can you imagine?
In the meantime?
So how do we live in this world while we’re waiting for the next? Paul tells us, that we are not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). What is it that transforms our minds? God’s Word. When we saturate ourselves with the Word of God, we can focus on what is unseen instead of what is seen.
In the meantime, when I hear negative things from the enemy, I know they are lies. All Satan can do is lie because there is no truth in him. But God’s Word is truth. So when I focus on the truth, I can recognize lies. I also find it helpful to sing old hymns which are laced with truth from God’s Word. Hymns like Great is Thy Faithfulness or Amazing Grace.
When I take walks, I focus on God’s character, and then I’m never surprised to look up and see a deer or hear the birds chirping away. Even though I am in this world, it’s becoming more and more obvious that I am not part of this world. I remember a hymn that talked about us being pilgrims. At the time, it didn’t make as much sense to me as it does today. That’s exactly who we are. We really are just passing through.
Lord, I thank you for who you are. I thank you that no matter what happens to us on this earth, you are with us. God, we look forward to the day that we will see you face to face, but for anyone who is struggling, we pray that you strengthen them, meet their needs, and let your Holy Spirit comfort them. We pray this in your Son’s precious and Holy name. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
There’s More, a poem by Anne Peterson.
Why is life so fragile?
I asked the Lord today.
People struggle with their health,
others slip away.
This isn’t what I planned, my child,
my Father says to me.
There’s more to life
than what you see,
I’ve made eternity.
(Anne Peterson © 2020)
Intersecting Faith and Life:
What are some things you find helpful in keeping your eyes on the Lord?