I recently read those three words on a day where life did in fact seem difficult. They were written in a letter by a woman named Pat who has deep faith in God and has spent her life devoted to Him. On the morning I read that sentence, I felt a sense of relief that I was not the only woman who loves and follows the Lord, yet often feels the weight of life’s challenges.
Sometimes I think that the Christian life is supposed to be trouble-free. I believe the lie that as a follower of Jesus, my days should be filled with calm, steady seas. While I have experienced seasons that have been more comfortable and predictable, I have also felt like “when it rains it pours” when it comes to my list of problems.
In This World
In John 16:33, Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
The context of this verse is that Jesus was addressing His disciples in His farewell discourse, right before He was taken away to be crucified. Jesus was getting ready to leave His disciples and He wanted them to know that the days ahead would not be filled with sunshine and rainbows. He told them they would have “tribulation.” Other translations say, “trouble” (NIV), “persecution” (NRSV), “trials and sorrows” (NLT).
While Jesus wants us to have an abundant life (John 10:10), He did not sugar-coat what life would be like here on earth. I don’t think Jesus wants us to be pessimists, but I think He wants us to be realistic with our expectations while living in a world tainted by sin and the devil. Jesus was correct, we will have trouble. Have you felt the weight of this fact lately?
Despite being familiar with this verse, I am often surprised when trouble comes my way. I have trouble connecting to the Wi-Fi. I have trouble finding two socks that match. Getting my kids ready for school in the morning can seem quite troublesome.
Sometimes the troubles or trials we experience are not easily fixed or forgotten. There are many natural disasters, diagnoses that are chronic, pandemics that are ongoing, and wars that are raging. My friend’s daughter just died in a car accident. My mom has cancer. God doesn’t always save us from experiencing trouble or trials.
The good news is that Jesus told the disciples, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.” When we focus and meditate on our circumstances or difficulties, we will not have peace. Trust me, I have tried! But when we focus and meditate on the things Jesus said, we will have supernatural peace.
Is your mind anchored on what Jesus said? Or are your own anxious thoughts causing you to be storm-tossed or fearful? When we meditate on what Jesus said, our negative thoughts are replaced with words of life and peace. In Christ, we have peace with God, but we can also have peace of mind.
Jesus encouraged His disciples to “take heart.” Taking heart doesn’t mean we ignore the news headlines or that we pretend there is no problem when we have many. Taking heart doesn’t mean we put on a fake smile and say that we’re “fine” when we’re anything but fine. To “take heart” means, “to be firm or resolute in the face of danger or adverse circumstances, be courageous.”
Jesus encouraged us to not be surprised when life is difficult, but to be firm and resolute despite our circumstances. This is possible as we walk with and fill our minds with truths from our Prince of Peace. Since Jesus has already overcome the world, we can live in this world with courage and hope, no matter how hard life gets.
Yes, life is difficult. But life with Jesus is sweet. Life on earth is difficult, but life in heaven will be more than sweet. I’m taking heart with you today because despite life’s difficulties, “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor. 4:17 NIV).
 William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 444.