The infamous Forrest Gump passed on his mother’s wisdom: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” (Forrest Gump, 1994) And Judy Garland crooned that “Life is just a bowl of cherries; don’t take it serious.”
This summer I found myself often describing my summer as being like trail mix: a little sweet, a little salty, and some nuts tossed in along the way. As we say goodbye to summer and dive head-first into fall, let’s reflect on what Jesus said about what we can expect from life.
In John 16:33b, Jesus explains to his disciples what they can expect when he is no longer with them: In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. In fifteen quick words—three brief sentences—Jesus asks us to (1) acknowledge our troubled reality, (2) to be brave, and then (3) reveals the reason for our hope. In this world YOU will have trouble Jesus does not suggest that there may be a moment of trouble in your life. No—he declares clearly that we WILL face difficulties.
Have you, like me, ever found yourself wondering why something trying was happening to you…and then remembered Jesus’ words? We should cease to be amazed when we face troubles in life; we will all face them. It is important and healthy to acknowledge them as a natural, normal part of life in this (currently!) fallen, sin-stained world so we can refocus our efforts on facing our trials bravely.
Take heart! The ubiquitous Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the phrase as: to gain courage or confidence; to begin to feel better and more hopeful. Jesus asks his disciples—and us—to be courageous in the face of worldly troubles. To have hope and to not feel despondent. Why? Because of what comes next… I have overcome the world Finally, Jesus plays the trump card. Uses the nuclear option. Absolutely has the final word in the in-your-head “No one knows how hard my life is and will always be” pity party we’re having because of our troubles. He has already (ultimately!) solved for all of our troubles. They WILL end. We CAN overcome. We most assuredly MUST find hope in Jesus’ defeat of the troubles in this world.
Maybe you are off to a rocky start this semester. Maybe you were injured and can’t play on the fall sports team you had dreamed of for months, even years. Maybe one of your relationships is not going very well. Maybe you got the internship or job of your dreams and now you are unsure that you can meet its demands. Or you’re unsure that you enjoy this kind of work after all.
1. You are not alone. The whole world is facing troubles in its fallen state. The struggles are real AND (unfortunately) normal, for the time being.
2. We are to be courageous, hopeful, and confident in these times of trouble. Why?
3. Because HE has overcome the sin of the world.
The troubles have an expiration date. He is with you, even now, through it all. So if your life isn’t feeling like a bowl of cherries and instead is a bit like trail mix, praise God for the sweet parts. Be courageous and hopeful through the salty areas of live, and laugh at the nutty things thrown into the mix. Why? Jesus has overcome. We can have beautiful, peace-giving HOPE in Him.