John 16:33 (NIV): “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.”
Jesus wants His people to experience His peace, but even that “promise” was given when He was talking about tribulation and persecution, which was also a promise. A lot of people these days interpret Jesus’ promise of peace as a promise that their life in Jesus will be one that is problem free – clear sailing. Even those who would never express it that way still feel that something is off, or wrong in one’s relationship with God if they or someone else has problems. But Jesus Himself, the ultimate example of one who lived in complete harmony with God’s plans and complete obedience to His will, did not have a trouble-free life. Instead, He experienced a lot of conflict, a lot of pushback, the vast majority of it from people who claimed to be living for God! Ultimately, He was beaten and crucified at the instigation of those same people. Peter, and Paul, and the rest of the apostles did not live trouble-free lives, but lives that could easily be classified as problematic. They were beaten, threatened, imprisoned, generally mistreated, and ultimately killed by those they were sent to evangelize. Yet even in the midst of those problems, they experienced a peace that was beyond human understanding, as they were faithful to God’s calling and obedient to His word. They accepted their trials and tribulations as fulfillments of Jesus’ promise, and experienced the joy and fulfillment of being found worthy of suffering for the name of Jesus, as He made them overcomers of the world, just as He had been.
Father, this is a great promise! Help me to keep moving forward, no matter what opposition I might encounter, secure in Your overcoming power at work in me. Help me to accept, and even embrace, the problems, so that I can fully experience the joy! Amen.