08 May 2017

Our Struggle with Trouble

“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

Jesus was emphatic, 'In this world you will have trouble.' He spoke these words in the context of believers being persecuted on account of him. However, trouble takes all sorts of forms — from that nagging ache that turns into something serious, to that relational struggle with a colleague or family member, to that court summons, or the remodelling of the rear of your car. And so trouble is both the stuff of life and the outcome of aligning our life and vision with Jesus Christ.

Life has a knack of creating new stresses and troubles that can leave us feeling overwhelmed. I regularly experience this both as a parent and also a leader in a giant family (our church) which is full of complex people and situations. This can feel like what I call, a 'stormtrooper life.'

What is a stormtrooper life? Well did you ever see a stormtrooper (in Star Wars) kicking back relaxing with a few stormtrooper buddies watching the game? No. Stormtroopers seem to just live in the battle. They live in the struggle.

Does your life feel like that sometimes?

If you read through the book of Acts — that earliest account of the church — you see that following Jesus is not an invitation to a peaceful or pleasurable life. Especially if you choose to live in a purposefully Jesus-shaped way. Jesus is not a lucky charm or a get out of jail card. You will have trouble on all sides. You will feel like you live in a battle. That might sound depressing, but it is not meant to be — because Jesus has a plan. His plan and promise is the intensification of His presence in our struggle — not the absence of the struggle.

Anticipating this, Jesus reminds his disciples, and us, that he offers lasting, authentic peace that enables us to navigate any trouble we face. This is illustrated in Acts 7, when Stephen is stoned to death by an angry mob. We read that his eyes were fixed on a glorious vision of Jesus while they snatched away his life.

How do you struggle with your trouble? God is always good and He never orchestrates evil, but he is not a divine puppeteer pulling all the right strings so that our lives never intersect with trouble. Life just doesn't work that way.

So, the question is not ‘Will you have trouble?’ but rather ‘Does trouble have you?’

If it does — if you are feeling overcome, paralysed, or defeated — be encouraged! Jesus is there, in the midst of it, wanting to intensify His presence in your life. He is mediating for you. Jesus promises that in him we can know peace, and that in him we can overcome. I pray that you experience this truth in every part of your life. May Jesus truly be your peace in the storm. We are the stormtroopers!

With everything I face today, Jesus be my peace.
When I don’t know what to do or say, Jesus be my peace.
Anchor my heart to the truth of your love and hold me in the storms.
Lift my gaze above the strife, remind me I am yours.