Thursday, September 5, 2013

Reflection on John 16:33 - God in Control: Even When I Experience Pain and Trials

Let me give you a simple background of Bible verse below so that you can understand why Jesus said what He said in the Gospel according to John. Jesus was preparing His disciples for His death and His ascension to the Father from this world. His disciples wanted to know what would happen to them when Jesus wasn’t there to teach and protect them. He thus gave them some bad news (read all of John 16) with a great promise.

He said: “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,

As I read chapter 16 of this book and particularly this verse, I can’t help but to ask questions: If I were there with Jesus, how would I have responded to His ‘weird-unthinkable’ promise (promise?!) that I will have many (many?!) trouble ahead of me and at the same time promise to being there for me? With all the trouble in my own life and the lives on many around me, is Jesus being real? How, by saying “I have overcome the world” can really encourage me?

With all these questions in mind I put it all aside and keep on reading the Word. I prayed and asked Jesus, the One who spoken this very Word to tell me what is His eternal promise really mean – right now, in the midst of my present pain and troubles.
4 main points:

Expect Pain and Trials in Life
Jesus was being real and relevant when He spoken this Word. He reminds me that the world is being unfriendly with God. With this in mind, though how much positive thinking I have to do, the truth is: selfish, anger, greed, tension, violence, injustice, lying, cheating, betrayal etc. are to be expected from people who don’t know God and from imperfect saints of God. Since sin is contagious, all these will be directed (or indirectly) at me, causing pain and suffering. I must acknowledge and expect this.

In Pain and Trials… Take Heart
Despite all the trouble and problems in my life, Jesus promises to be with me (with us!) and never leave me alone. When Jesus said “I have overcome the world” it simply means that in Him, as we abide in Him (read John 15) and Him in us, we can overcome the world. I can overcome the world because of Jesus. My relationship with Jesus will bring me peace and comfort in the midst of my difficulties and trials. Therefore, take courage. “Take heart”.

 God is in Control!
When I sat and think back why all these present trouble ever happen to me? I was humbled by what God had shown me in my heart: most problems in my life were causes by my own bad-dumb-stupid-premature choices and decisions. Sometime, no doubt, I went into troubles because of other people’s actions. I should have known that the world is fallen and sin-scarred. But I should have known better that in everything – in every person and whatever situations – ALL is under God’s control. As I contemplated His faithfulness in my life, what or how many problems or troubles in my life has God turned bad into good! I must remember that God is good for those who (continue to) believe in Him and – He is in control.

Hallelujah! Someday Pain and Trials will End
In Revelation 21:4, I remember Jesus said this: [I] will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (NLT). This grand event will happen in the sure future. But I want it now! I want it to happen today! …but God [obviously trillion times trillion times much wiser than me] has a different schedule than what I want. Since this is His eternal Word, I can be confident that God will keep His promise both to bring the end to pain and evil in this world and at the same time – to be with me while pain and trials is still going on as long as I live.

In summary, for you and me, God will take all things (that includes our pain and trials) that happen to us and will use them to make something good happen in our lives. Continue to trust in Him. “Have peace in [Jesus]”. Expect pain and trials in this world but “take heart”. Trust that God will be with us in the midst of our trouble – He is in control. Remember the promise: someday pain will end. God be with you. Amen.
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