“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 NLT
Jesus understood the difficult and demoralizing times that His disciples would face. Our enemy’s objective is to “kill, steal and destroy” (John 10:10) our life, our living and our legacy. He uses doubt and disappointment . . . fear and failure . . . struggles and suffering . . . to paralyze and punish us.
Trials and sorrows are part of life on this side of eternity. Jesus encourages us with a “peace that passes all understanding” (Phil 4:7) and a presence that will always be with us. (Matt 28:10). There will be struggles . . . but we have a Source of strength and security.
Opposition. Life is frail and fragile, easily broken and bruised. The “fairy tale” usually turns into a freak show. Heartache and hopelessness happens. James reminds us, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” (Jam 1:2-3 NLT). It’s not “if” they will come . . . but “when” will they come. Expect trouble. Embrace it. Exchange it for joy. And, endure.
Opportunity. Failure is not falling down, it’s staying down. Peter tells us, “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.” (1 Pet 1:6-7 NLT). In every difficulty, there is a deliverance. In every painful experience, there is a purposeful explanation. In every obstacle, there is an opportunity. Alexander Graham Bell said, “When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” Stay focused on the possibility, not in the problem.
Overcoming. We have His peace and we have His promises. John, a fisherman and follower of Jesus reminds us, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith.” (1 John 5:3-4). God’s compassion gives us the confidence to be conquerors.
In her song “Overcomer”, Mandisa writes these encouraging lyrics,
“Whatever it is you may be going through,
I know He’s not gonna let it get the best of you.
You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight until the final round.
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now.
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when He reminds You
That you’re an overcomer.
You’re an overcomer.”
In your struggles, see your Savior.
In your pain, see your Prince of Peace.
In your troubles, see your Triumphant Truth.
In your obstacles, see your Overcomer.
We are reminded of Jesus’ words, “The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” (John 16:32-33 MSG)
We are overcomers through the One who has overcome.