“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
“Trouble” is a pretty general term. It’s also universally applicable when it comes to life because, in a real sense, life is trouble.
Sometimes the troubles are with health. Sometimes financial. Sometimes with your career or other times with your children. Troubles at home, with the market, in the world, in the church… always trouble. In fact, “trouble” is one way that we chart the different seasons of life – we bounce from one season of trouble to a season of relative peace and then to another kind of trouble. These become markers – before and after moments by which we measure time.
Yes, there is almost always trouble in life – the only questions are what kind and to what degree that trouble is.
We don’t look forward to trouble; some of us spend nights awake thinking about what trouble might be just over the horizon. We prepare ourselves against trouble and mostly seek to get through it as quickly as possible. In light of all those things, why might this trouble in life, whatever its source or degree, actually be good news?
It’s because trouble in life means Jesus is not a liar.
The night before His crucifixion, Jesus was brutally honest with His disciples. Yes, He wanted to comfort them, but He would not extend His comfort at the expense of the truth. So He told them clearly:
“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).
That’s right – you will have trouble. Jesus told us it was true. And this is a promise as sure as all the others He made to His people.
Many of those promises are happy:
That He will give us the words to say when we are questioned.
Then He will fill us with joy in His presence.
That He is preparing a place of eternal joy for us. That He will never leave us or forsake us.
That all things work together for our ultimate good.
These are all rock solid, undetractable, and bank on it promises of God.
But so is the promise of trouble.
Yet the fact that both groups of promises – the ones we see as happy and the ones we see as more, well, “troublesome” – are true is good news because the fact that we have trouble in life validates the other promises Jesus gave.
That is to say, the promises of God are not like a cafeteria line in which we can claim some of them and not others. Either they’re all true, or we can’t trust that any of them are. Because either God is honest or He’s not.
When the trouble that Jesus promised would come does indeed come, instead of being shocked, dismayed, or surprised, we can see that this is yet another confirmation that God keeps His Word. And His Word tells us that despite this trouble, He will finish the good work He started in us (Philippians 1:6) and will make good on the inheritance promised His children in Christ (Ephesians 1:11-14).
Jesus is no liar. Thank God He’s not.
Written by Michael Kelley, Guest Contributor