Every person who is mentally functional will imagine a future filled with good things. The vision of what is hoped for is more clear to some and very blurred and obscure others. Some people have a better start it seems than others.
As we mature toward becoming adults much of the fantasy of childhood dreams eventually fades away and the starkness of reality becomes a constant companion. Futures that seemed so “story book” seem impossible to attain, and bit by bit, day upon day, trouble starts to creep in. Before the story of our lives is completely written trouble is there, loud and brash, like an uninvited guest who comes to crash the party that is your life.
Near the end of Jesus’ final days on earth there is the story of Him talking to the disciples about his departure. He is encouraging them, comforting them, and equipping them for the days ahead without his physical presence. Near the end of the discourse Jesus made an astonishing statement. He promised there would be trouble ahead.
“…in the world you will have tribulation…” John 16:33b (ESV)
If any people should escape tribulation, trouble, shouldn’t it be Jesus closest associates? They had not done it well at times, (..like you and me) but they had been with him all the way. For 3.5 years they had been mostly faithful. And yet, as he is preparing them for his departure he drops this truth bomb on them. Trouble Ahead!
I love the way God does things. Jesus statement about sure trouble in the future is sandwiched between two wonderful truths.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace
Take heart, I have overcome the world
In the darkest storm of your life. When your hopes have been dashed and broken on the rocks of reality you too can have peace in Him. When it seems hope is about to totally slip away remember that Jesus has overcome the world.
Yes, there will be trouble at the door. You can count on it. Just as there is sun in the day and darkness at night, tribulation will be just as faithful. The good news is that right in the middle of your trouble you can have peace in Him. Remind yourself and tell whoever can hear, Jesus has overcome the world!
Perhaps we should learn to speak of our trouble and trials as the Apostle Paul spoke of his. If you have been a student of Paul you are well aware of his beatings, stonings, ship wrecks, imprisonment, and on and on. Yet, in the face of all sorts of big time trouble Paul summed it up this way.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (ESV)
Light and momentary? Are you kidding Paul? You see your life of constant troubles as light and momentary? He did and we should.
The bottom line is it’s a matter of perspective. You can focus on things and situations that are troublesome, or you can focus as Paul and Jesus did. Focus on things that are unseen, things that are eternal. You know, like God’s promises and power. God has promised trouble. He has also promised to never leave us alone. He will not forsake us, ever. He is always there, always loving us, always bringing us to himself.
Trouble is coming to you. Look for God when it gets there. He is present.