Those Who Overcome (a meditation on facing difficulties)

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. ~Jesus, John 16:33

Life is filled with its ups and downs. Sometimes it feels more down than up, even a race down like that first drop on a roller coaster. Trials come and go. Some stay longer, much longer, than we hoped. Uncertainties wait for us around every turn. It can be overwhelming.

Yet in his final minutes with his disciples before his arrest, betrayal at the hands of a friend, and crucifixion, Jesus told his followers I’m here so you can have peace. This just after Jesus warned them they were about to scatter and leave him alone in his time of trial.

Notice that Jesus didn’t say that he came to make our lives free of trials, hardships, and troubles. In fact he says the opposite: you will have many. Not long before this Jesus even warned that the world will hate his followers just as it hated him, for “a slave is not greater than the master” (15:18-21).

If you come to Jesus expecting to live your best life now in that you’ll be healthy, wealthy, and trouble free all the days of your life, then you have missed the point. Elsewhere the Bible tells us that trials are sanctifying, holiness-shaping for the Christian (Romans 5:3-5 and James 1:2-4). Jesus didn’t come that we might have perpetual trouble-free lives of comfort this side of eternity. He came to give us peace in the midst of the troubles of life and the world.

And how do we gain such peace? By remembering that Jesus is victorious over Satan, sin, death, and hell—he has overcome. Thus, in him, we too have overcome.

John, who recorded these words of Jesus, later wrote in Spirit-led reflection:

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. … For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? ~ 1 John 5:1, 4-5

We do not have to rely on our own strength and will to be overcomers. Instead we fix our hearts and minds on our Savior-King. By trust in Jesus we are born of God. And being born of God, we overcome. The victory is ours because the victory has already been won by him.

This truth gives us peace. God’s Holy Spirit within us, reminding us of this truth and helping us set our eyes on Jesus, gives us peace. Faithful saints around us, Christians who have faithfully lived in the victory of Christ longer than us, remind us of this truth and it gives us peace.

We will overcome because Jesus has overcome.

This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.

john 16_33

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