Jesus said, "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." (John 16:33)
"In this world you will have trouble."
I think I hear someone say, "Amen! You said it brother!"
And I may also hear someone say, "You don't know trouble!"
Perhaps even someone else saying, "Trouble? Trouble doesn't come close to describing my life."
It is easy to see the trouble in this world. The trouble in this world is not limited to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The trouble in this world is not confined to corruption among political and civic leaders. The trouble Jesus was speaking about hits us where we are, where we live, and often when we least expect it and feel least prepared for it.
Trouble in this world comes in the form of a child with special needs, a spouse with an illness, or a friend who is depressed and needy. Trouble in this world often comes disguised as a relief from our troubles: a new and exciting relationship, a temptation we've never known before, a friendship that suddenly comes alive to us. Trouble in this world often comes after we have made a promise to "be there" for someone, made a public commitment to live for God, or expressed a desire for deeper faith and a more visible witness.
Trouble in this world can cause us to question our commitments, lose our focus, and wander from the path we know is right. Trouble in this world can drain us of our energy, cause us to ignore the ultimate of power sources, or resist assistance from those most capable of helping. Trouble in this world can overwhelm us, blind us, confuse us, and defeat us ... if we focus only on the trouble.
When the trouble in this world comes at us, we sometimes cannot think of anything else. We dream or have nightmares about it. We obsess over how, or if, we will survive these troubles.
When that happens, the Enemy has almost won the battle. He has weakened us. He has distracted us. If he can keep us in this place with this focus, he will eventually draw us away from the Lord.
Jesus also said, "Take heart! I have overcome the world."
"Take heart!" "Find comfort." "Pay attention." "Remember." "Don't forget." "Don't lose sight of the fact." Translate Jesus' words how you want, but hear the punch line!
"I have overcome the world."
There is trouble in this world. We cannot ignore it. We cannot escape it. We cannot deal with it alone. But, we can take it to God. We can ask Him for help and wisdom. We can make Him our focus and not our trouble become all we see. We can let Him fight our battles for us. We can "Take heart!" We can know without a doubt, that He has overcome the world. Then, we can live today based on His victory.
In this world we will have trouble, but we serve the One who has overcome the world.