“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
I have a confession to make. I’m a pretty accident-prone person. It just is what it is. One instance in particular sticks out to me.
One day, after rest hour, I was taking my campers’ mail to the mailroom. I was holding a big stack of letters in one hand and a slice of watermelon in the other, when I turned to say hey to a friend. Somehow, I lost my balance and fell onto the gravel in front of ceramics. The mail and the watermelon went flying, and a whole crowd of people ran to help me. I tried to laugh it off, but it turned out that I had a deep cut on my knee. Instead of teaching sixth period high adventure, I ended up getting stitches in the health hut.
That story makes me laugh, but it also makes me think. Camp is my favorite place in the whole world. I am so thankful for the ways that the Lord has shown me how much he loves me through camp and the amazing people I get to be around there. But even at camp, not everything always goes as planned!
That’s exactly what Jesus is telling his disciples here. We can plan and plan for everything to go the way we want it to, but we’re guaranteed that some things just won’t go our way. In fact, Jesus tells us that we WILL have trouble. The forecast is 100 percent.
It just is going to happen whether we like it or not. People will not always be nice to us. Our plans won’t always work out. We’ll make mistakes. Tough things will happen. That’s a guarantee. At this point, maybe you’re feeling the way I feel. “Wait a minute,” you’re thinking. “I have no chance of getting out of hard things? That stinks.” At first, Jesus telling us this just doesn’t seem comforting at all. But what if it is?
If I know that trouble is coming no matter what, I can go ahead and accept it. I don’t have to map out my life to avoid discomfort and struggle. Jesus tells me that’s a given, that I can stop trying to control everything in my life, because life wasn’t meant to be controlled. Jesus tells us that he is bigger than the bad things, that he’s bigger than the disappointments and heartaches. He has overcome the world! He will never, ever abandon us.
Throughout all of our messiness, all of our hard things, we are confident that the Lord is bigger. We’re confident that Jesus is at work even when everything looks bleak. Even though our expectations will get crushed over and over again, Jesus assures us that peace is found through him and him alone. So we know that even when nothing has gone as planned, he has overcome the world. And that’s what makes all the difference.