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
“This is going to sting, but it will ultimately make you better.” I hate getting shots. But sometimes getting a shot is “just what the doctor ordered”. A tetanus shot, for example, is way better than the alternative-getting tetanus (otherwise known as lock-jaw)!
Our great physician of the soul, Jesus, explains to us that living as Christians in this world is “going to sting”. You can expect that being a follower of Jesus is going to bring trouble for you, not entirely unlike how he experienced trouble in this world. After all, “a disciple is not above his teacher” (cf. Luke 6:40)
In a strange sort of way, we can join another “crazy apostle” (named Peter) who could actually rejoice in his sufferings and even find something beneficial in enduring trouble: “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the genuineness of your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (I Peter 1:6-7)
So, suffering for being a follower of Christ only serves to validate that you belong to him? Exactly. And trouble can be used by God to refine us in our faith and make us more eager to leave this world? It certainly can and often does.
It’s a little like how eagles operate with their offspring: Eagles are known to put all kinds of sharp items (like thorns and sharp rocks) in the bottom of their nests. Then they cover all these nasty things up with soft downy feathers so that when the little eaglets hatch they are very comfortable…at first. But, as the little eagles grow and get closer to the time they will need to fly off and live on their own, the mother will pull feathers away-making it less and less comfortable to stay in the nest.
In II Corinthians 4:17 the great Apostle Paul writes, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Notice his “eternal perspective” on trouble. Trouble is “light and momentary” especially in relation to the “heavy and permanent” punishment we have earned for ourselves by sinning against God!
Jesus, our Savior, experienced trouble because of all the “trouble making” we had done in breaking God’s law. And His suffering was far from “light” as He bore the sins of the whole world on his sinless shoulders while suffering hell on the cross.
Relax, this is only going to sting for a little while!
Thank you, LORD Jesus Christ-for the unimaginable suffering you willingly endured as my sin bearing substitute. When it comes time for me to depart from this place, make me ready and willing to gladly “fly off”-to be with you forever in heaven. In the meantime, help me to keep a proper perspective on trouble and to endure it patiently and without complaining as I eagerly await your certain return. Amen.