You know those times when life is a little gloomy? When every phone call and email are the bearers of bad news? When the "to-do" list is miles long and you are trying to figure out what even needs to be done?
Things aren't as bad as that, but there are certain areas of messiness right now. And the reality is, there always are. I had someone tell me recently that there are always two tracks in life that are running parallel to one another. There is the good track and the bad track. Things are always happening on both of them, but sometimes you spend more time riding one or the other.
Growing up, I thought it was possible to only ever hop onto the good train and ride it forever. Mistakenly, I imagined going through life unscathed by hardship. I crave fun and actively look for ways to create it, and I thought I may be able to wriggle through life the fun way, on the party train. I am not sure how I overlooked or failed to consider that Jesus actually tells us "In this world, you will have trouble." (John 16:33)
There is no "if" in that statement.
There is no "possibly."
There is no "some people."
Nope, Jesus makes it pretty clear that living in this world will come with Trouble. (With a capital "T" that rhymes with "P" that stands for pool. Raise your hand if you performed the Music Man in high school. If only the trouble I was talking about was just a pool hall coming to town.)
One of the hard things about being right smack dab in the middle of trouble is that I don't know how situations will turn out. As John put it last night, "We are not in a movie where this is the hard part, but we know that things will turn out well in the end. There may be no happy ending." Because in this world, we will have trouble. People make poor choices that ruin things in their lives, possibly forever. Watching this is heart-breaking. Being stuck in the middle is even harder.
So, while all this trouble-business can still come as a surprise to me, there is good news for us all. Jesus didn't stop with just talking about trouble. He says, "But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) Makes me tear up just reading it all over again. There is hope! I may not know the ending here on earth, but I know how it all ends. Jesus overcomes the world. He overcomes the sin and the mess and the hardship. He redeems it all.
Just like I need fresh flowers at the end of dreary February to remind me that winter will not last forever and that spring really will come, I need to listen to Jesus telling me to "Take Heart!" To find my peace in him instead of little worldly pleasures that leave me wanting.
Take heart, dear friends. This world is not all there is. Thank the good Lord.