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Grace Nuggets: Simple reminders of God’s great love for you.

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.” John 16:33

A particular hamburger chain ran a series of commercials a few years back in which an elderly woman looked into the bun of a competing hamburger chain and asked the question, “Where’s the beef?”

Today, the question may well be rephrased, “Where’s the peace?” It seems as though our world is coming apart at the seams politically, socially and spiritually. Things we once felt secure are, at best on shaky ground. Add to those struggles the fact that cancer, disease and natural disasters seem to be rampant as well and we have a pretty bleak picture of the world as we know it.

I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s. Those were turbulent times for our nation. Race riots, drug addiction, war protests and other social upheaval seemed to signal the end of the world…oh, yeah, and God died too! That didn’t help anything at all!

Times of unrest foster fear, worry and despair in all of us. Even those of us who ‘know’ who is in ultimate control question sometimes if he really is aware of what’s going on.

A story is making the rounds about a particular airline that went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure a woman whose son was in a coma was able to change flights (at no cost) and go see her son. The story illustrates how God works in our lives. She had no idea why she was being called off the plane. She had no idea what was going on in the background to get her to see her son. Yet, while she waited for her flight, plans were already underway to help her.

One day Jesus was teaching his disciples about terrible things that would happen to him and them in the future. Then he leaves them, and us, with this two-fold promise: “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.” (John 16:33) Later, his disciple, Peter would write, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12)

Slide1What lessons can we learn from these two sections of scripture? First of all, trouble in this world should not surprise us. It doesn’t surprise God. In fact, Jesus has already been to your tomorrows. He’s seen the struggles. He’s seen your failures and the failures of those who have hurt you.  He’s not surprised by any of this in the smallest sense of the word.

The second lesson is that He’s already taken care of things. We should be prepared for tough times this side of heaven. Times in which we will fail, or be hurt and misunderstood. There will be times we feel completely defeated. But take heart. Jesus has overcome and through his power working through you, you will overcome too!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for your promise to see me through what lay ahead. I’m scared, confused and lonely. Empower me with your Holy Spirit to be an overcomer regardless of what I face today. Amen.

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.” John 16:33 (NLT)

He spoke in generalities. He didn’t give dates and times. He certainly didn’t rescue us from it. He gave us a promise though…peace during it and victory after it!

Try to imagine the emotion as the disciples listened to Jesus’ teaching on the future. He didn’t mince words. He told us there would be natural catastrophe’s that would boggle our minds. We warned us that relationships would fail. We’d have to endure the pain of being let down by people we thought loved us. We’d be misunderstood, falsely accused, mocked, and even physically harmed. We’d endure the agony of waiting in the doctors office as they worked on a loved on in the next room. We’d pace the floor at home waiting for the phone to ring with the doctor’s test results. We’d stand helplessly by the graveside of a child who ‘died far too early in life’.

When you think about it, sometimes life just sucks! Sure there’s the beauty of the sunrise or sunset. There’s the majesty of mountain grandeur and fall colors. The silence and purity of new fallen snow; the awesome miracle of a new life. But even with all the good of life there’s just so much pain. Sometimes all the tragedy and pain in life makes one wonder if God really does know what’s going on.

Whatever you are going through right now. Whether it is financial disaster, worry, suffering the consequences of your own stupid decisions, the pain of relationships gone bad or watching a loved one be destroyed by the effects of cancer, or whatever else is pulling you down. Remember this. Jesus told us there’d be trouble ahead. While we are in this world we can really expect no less than that. None of this should really be a surprise. We were warned over 2000 years ago. But don’t miss the ‘pearl in the slime’. “I have told you so you will have peace…I have overcome the world.”

That’s it! That’s the nugget we can hold on to, the life preserver in the midst of the ocean, the high ground in the midst of the flood. Jesus knows…He’s overcome the world. Peace of mind will never come to us in life if we base our peace of mind on world events and our own accomplishments. Peace of mind will only come when we base all we have on the overcoming power of Jesus Christ in our lives. He alone is our stronghold.

PRAYER: Father God. I’m in awe at the amount of relational, natural and political pain I see in this world. Somehow it’s a little easier to bear when I remember you warned us about all this. Empower me with your spirit to rest in the peace I can have in you. Protect me from worry and fear. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

“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

Imagine how Jesus’ disciples felt as He told them that He would be leaving them soon. For three years Jesus had been their constant companion. They had learned more about God and healing and power and forgiveness…and life than they had ever known before.

While Jesus had been with them they’d been in situations where they feared for their lives, watched lives changed before their very eyes and even been personally involved in healing others of their illnesses and casting out demons. Even though they didn’t completely understand everything about Jesus, one thing they knew; when they were with Jesus, things were going to work out all right.

Now, He was telling them that He was going away and they wouldn’t see Him for awhile. Jesus had gone off into the mountains on occasion to pray but this was different. This was going to be a longer period of time and even though He said He’d come back, He didn’t say when.

Not only was He leaving, Jesus didn’t paint a very pleasant picture of life after He was gone. We have the advantage of knowing from history what happened in the lives of the disciples but to them it was all a mystery. Their life was going to be one of trouble. They would be attacked, misunderstood and killed because of Him.

In John chapter 16 Jesus leaves the disciples, and us, three promises. First of all, trouble and hardship should never surprise us. Jesus said we would have many problems. He told us that relationships would fail, our health would fail and government would fail. All of those things are based on the human, finite existence and by nature will end.

The second thing Jesus told the disciples is that even though they would no longer see Him physically, they would know His presence because the Father (God) would send His Holy Spirit to indwell us, comfort us, guide us and show us the things of God. There are times when you feel all alone. There will be times when it seems like no one understands you. But Jesus’ promise is the same today as it was the day He sat with His disciples. The struggles of our lives may cloud our sense of His presence. We may feel like no one fully understands the pain we bear, but Jesus does. He is not far from us.

Lastly, Jesus wanted His disciples to know that no matter how bad things get, those who follow Him will eventually see victory. The world will through confusion, pain, hate and anger at us. We will groan in pain and confusion and feel completely abandoned. But someday, those of us who are Christ followers will overcome the pain and adversity of this life. In the end…WE WIN! Until that time when victory is ours, each of us must learn to rely on the strength, comfort and guidance of the Holy Spirit during those darkest times of our lives.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I want to thank you today for forgiving every one of my sins and failures. I praise you today for removing my guilt and shame even though I’m so undeserving. You told your disciples that we’d see trouble and I’m feeling that right now. I feel abandoned, scared and too weak to go on. Empower me with your Spirit to endure the attacks and trust your presence when you seem absent. In the midst of this struggle I thank you that eventually, because of you, I win! Amen.

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February 2023
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