In this world you will have trouble. Jesus said this (John 16:33), and He wasn’t kidding.
I’ve always taken these words personally, though they certainly apply to more global issues like war, economy, politics, poverty, oppression, etc. But I’ve always read them for my encouragement, to remind me that this world is not perfect and there is trouble. Every day. With a capital T that rhymes with P and stands for…poor me.
When I’ve been self-pitying about things that aren’t going my way, or even real problems in my life, this verse is a reminder that these light and momentary troubles don’t surprise God, though I might be caught off guard. God promises that I will grow through these experiences, these difficulties, and shine God’s light more brightly because of them. They build me up for eternal glory – they count for eternity.
For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendor and an endless blessedness]! 2 Corinthians 4:17, AMP
I was reflecting on my situation a year ago, and the turmoil that I was feeling as our move to Florida was on hold. I really struggled then; it felt like the yo-yo of moving and not moving was never going to end. I couldn’t believe that after all of my life’s difficulties in 2014 (depression several times, car accident, empty nesting, family health issues), I was expected to handle more in 2015. And I really struggled with the reality of “trouble.” I felt like I had already had so many impossibilities that had been out of my control, and this start to 2015 was going to undo me. Even my therapist and psych doc had told me that I’d been through more difficulties than most people can handle without breaking, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that I broke, and that I had major depression again.
But God’s Word says that even though we know that we will have trouble in this world, Christ has overcome the world.
I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.] John 16:33, AMP
These troubles are not forever. And we are not alone in them – God promises His perfect peace through the tough times.
I am to keep my eyes focused on Christ, not on my circumstances, nor on my troubles and difficulties and tribulations and distresses and sufferings. My eyes on Jesus means that, like Peter, I get out of the boat and focus on Him and not be distracted by the waves of turmoil all around me. (Matthew 14:25-32)
Easier said than done.
I’m in a situation now where I’m waiting again. Waiting to see what God has planned for me. I’m waiting to make friends, waiting to be in leadership, waiting to connect, waiting for whatever He has next for me. I thought that by now, after almost a year of living here, I’d be further along in these areas. So I’m trying to use this time to draw closer to Him. To treat this seemingly uneventful, without trouble but without impact, time of my life as a time to spend getting to know Him more. This requires discipline – to be in God’s Word and in His Presence every morning. To commit each moment of each day to Him. To be willing to let Him guide the day.
And my days are pretty uneventful. I don’t have a lot going on, though I am trying to be involved in things that take me out of the house and get me around other people. So it should be easy to find time to spend with God. To write. To read. To relax in Him. To meditate on His Word and contemplate His character – to get to know Him better while I wait for whatever it is that He has next for me.
I learned from last year’s angst. I am less bothered by the waiting. I’m not anxious, I’m not fretting. I’m trusting God that He’s working out all the details in His due time.
Yes, there are daily difficulties: I feel lonely sometimes. I wonder what I am offering to the world right now. I miss being in leadership, in facilitating discussion groups or teaching. I wish I were more connected with other people, and wasn’t alone so much of the time. But these things I’m missing, these troubles, I’m learning to see them as opportunities to give them to God. To pray about all of them. To tell Him my heart and hurts and loneliness and concerns, and trust Him to work it all out for His eternal glory. His timing. His plans. My patience. My dependence on Him. My increasing knowledge of who He is, and trusting His plan for my life, for my daily activities, and for any troubles that may come.