“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
What an encouraging passage of scripture! Just what you wanted to hear today. I know because I was thinking the exact same thing – not! It says that we won’t just have trials and sorrows, but it says that we’ll have many trials and sorrows. This is one of those promises that we don’t run to to declare and decree over our lives. Of course, the result is God’s wonderful gift of shalom, as well as knowing that we have victory in Jesus over each of the difficulties that we face, but we don’t want to have to face the hard times to experience these beautiful gifts. If we choose to look at it through God’s eyes, we are finally able to see those tough times through His perspective and walk through them as a victor, but getting to this place isn’t always a fun journey to take. Often it’s painful. I know because I’ve walked through it just like you, and I want to share that with you.
We have grown up in an American culture that has influenced the way that we think. As we got older, those thought patterns carried over into every part of our lives. It just snowballed from there until we just came to accept this way of thinking as our way of life. Somehow God’s desire for us got crowded out from all of this mess and we chose to live less than what God wanted for us. I’m no exception to this!
You see, I grew up thinking that if I followed all of the rules, then my life would be beautiful and wonderful. It would be a dream come true. So I set out on that path as a very driven young woman. I took great pride in obeying my parents. Whatever I set out to do, I would do with all of my heart. No one had to make me study and make good grades. I wanted to because I knew that this would pay off one day. No one had to make me practice piano and voice. I had the intrinsic desire to excel in both of these gifts that God had given me. I knew that if I tried hard enough and stayed on this path, it would all lead somewhere good. I had many other things that I was highly driven about, but that would take a book to discuss, but you get the picture.
I just knew that if I did the right thing and made all of the right choices, then one day this would all pay off for me. My life would be wonderful just because I was playing by all of the rules. Surely nothing bad could come my way because I was doing it all right, but was I greatly deceived. Just because you do everything right is no guarantee that our life isn’t going to include any troubles. In fact, in John 16:33, it says just the opposite of that. It promises us that we will have trials no matter what – no matter if we play it all by the rules and get it all right. That was a tough pill to swallow.
All of my accomplishments and good things that I did in my life were no preventative against all of the trials and struggles that I’ve faced in my life. I faced hard times just like the next person. I didn’t want to accept this, but it was actually so freeing when God revealed this truth to me. I have the promise of knowing that I’m not messed up just because I’ve faced a few bumps in the road. We all walk that same journey. None of us are exempt. We just choose how we’re going to face them.
I am so thankful that God has walked every step of my journey with me. You don’t realize what a blessing that is until He’s all that you have. You realize He’s all that you need. In this process that He’s brought me through, He’s allowed me to experience His peace, His precious shalom, which is wholeness, not an absence of trouble. See, that’s what He promises in that scripture. Not an absence of trouble, but living life as a whole and healed person facing whatever troubles come your way.
So don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. You aren’t promised a life of ease. None of us are, but we are promised that God will go with us and that we’ll experience His true peace. Don’t fight it. Just rest in it!