“…In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

This is the greatest news I have ever read; the most hopeful message I have ever heard.

It is here that Jesus acknowledges the difficult life we will all lead: different than the one He intended for each and every one of us.  That life is troublesome.  That people are troublemakers.  That situations, and feelings, are troubling.  To all of that, He says, “I know.”  He once experienced the beauty of the perfection that He had originally designed.  He then experienced mankind’s design, and how trouble had become part of that

He acknowledges the upset of order.  The finality of the statement shows that this is how it has to be right now.  If He were to remove the trouble He would removing the troublemakers, and then it would all be over.  No more chances: for anyone to respond to Him; for anyone to do anything good; for anyone to do anything selfless.  In His grace, even in His mercy, He doesn’t want that.  Neither should we.  All day, every day, is a second chance…for everyone, everywhere.

 What an encourager the Lord is.  The best part about this passage is that He begins verse 33 before the part about ‘trouble’.  He starts by saying, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace…” 

 All throughout His Word our Heavenly Father is encouraging us.  Verses that talk about undying love, unprecedented protection, and ultimate freedom.  He wants us to be optimistic.  He is.  He wants us to be light of heart.  Sure, He knows that this world went wrong.  He sent His Son to redeem it.  He was, and still is, willing to be a part of it, even the pain.  Anyone who rejects God and His enormous goodness on loosely based accusations of injustice, invalidity, you-name-it, have nowhere to go with that pain, their pain.

He extended an offer of adoption to me, and I accepted, and regardless of how someone may treat me, or what butterfly effect I am caught up in, I can always take heart.  There are so many orphans out there, choosing to be orphans… I choose not to be one of them.

 He doesn’t tell me that He will take away my pain.  That He will make it so I never experience pain again.  We both know that is impossible.  There is no point in trying to fight something that is everything.  Stubbornness will get me nowhere.  He tells me to come to Him with my burdens, and I am happy to do so.  He tells me that He will always help me bear the weight.  I cannot pass up an offer like that.  I look all around me, and see and feel the world surrounding me, and I know that I could not possibly bear it on my own.  He tells me that I can have joy in everything, and I have finally discovered what that truly means.  It doesn’t mean that everything will be ‘a good time’.  While enjoyment is not possible in everything, joy certainly is.  The pain I have felt drives me to the feet of my Savior with a passion and intensity that takes my breath away, and there is nothing more wonderful than needing Him.  Without that pain I would not seek Him, I would not be desperate for Him to remove the weight of it before it crushes me down and I suffocate underneath it, heavy and alone.  When I feel the pressure of my emotions, the straining of my soul, I begin the race; a race against myself and everyone else.  I will always cross the finish line, and even if I don’t cross it in this life I know I will cross it in the next, because He promises that the war is already won.  It is only my job to persevere, because it is promised that I cannot lose.  And from every time that I do cross the finish line, and the tears stop flowing because there is a little less need for them, I absolutely know this to be true, and I am so joyful.  I am so hopeful for that final finish line.   

 As necessary as the trouble is, it is just as necessary to counter it with Hope and Endurance.  Don’t forget to tell your face!  I heard that explained in the most accurate way possible: sometimes Christians communicate with the right words but, unfortunately, they give off a negative vibe that speaks much louder.  The excitement of Victory doesn’t shine in their eyes, and the joy of Hope doesn’t resonate with a smile.  Those expressions should come with knowing the Lord.

Don’t forget to tell your face!

Don’t forget to tell your fellow believers’ faces!

I plagiarize here, but this person wrote it best: Are you willing to let someone critique your vibe so you can be the best you?  And if it’s hard to have your vibe critiqued, it’s got to be that much more challenging to have someone critique our faces…

The simple fact is that believing in Jesus IS hope! It is hard for me to be hopeful.  I tend towards skepticism.  I become overwhelmed by negativity when I see the magnitude of it around me.  I have felt that it is impossible to function in this [troublesome] world.  That my beautiful Christianity must be guarded from the ugliness of everything else. 

 But then I learned that I had bought into a lie.

You see: He has overcome the world.

 The battle is already won.

We linger because the Lord is merciful.  I knew that I needed to be taking my energy of paranoia and investing it in a much better way.

 I needed to accept that my troubles were not a personal vendetta against me; that they weren’t the very hand of God, or His blind eye.  They were merely the result of troubling people, a broken system, and my own bad choices.

 I needed to take God at His Word and begin each day by laying those troubles at His feet, and exchanging them for a burden of hope.  I find that this one is much easier to carry.  Who wouldn’t rather carry the same weight of incense, as opposed to the same weight of …something that smells the opposite?  You get my drift.  Some people really have no idea how very badly they smell.

But what does Hope look like?

To me, it meant accepting that maybe politicians were dictating serious decisions about my life, and my freedom, but that they didn’t dictate my day to day.  I learned that I could pay taxes while undeserving parties received that money, or that I could always follow the rules while people all around me break every last one them, endangering themselves and others, never being held accountable, but such things needn’t determine the quality of my life.  My husband could lose his job time and time again, and we could even lose our house, but it wasn’t going to be forever.  Nothing is forever. 

He has overcome the world!

I don’t need to raise my children thinking that they must be segregated.  Indeed, I must be raising them equipped to be amongst their peers, at all ages and stages of life.  I don’t want them to think that they are too precious, too angelic, to go out into this world, and that this world is polluted by heathens, instead of simply other human beings that are people just like them, all originating from the same place, and hopefully going to the same place in the end.  They need to be able to hear swear words, take a punch, look strangers in the eye…and say, “Jesus loves you.”  It is called the armor of God for a reason.  If Jesus Christ bore scars, marks on His physical body from being banged up in this troublesome world, than we should be blessed enough to also receive our wounds.

And receive them with Grace.

And counter with Hope.