Friday, May 27, 2016

There Are Days

“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).        

There are days you’d do over again if you could; days when you didn’t get it quite right, when the distance between who you want to be and you are is as wide as a galaxy.

There are days when you slacked off and simply got it done because you were tired and wanted to go home; you told yourself that no one would know the difference and your best efforts could wait for another day, the next task.

There are days when you wake up having barely slept, regretting the night before.  The sun went down on your wrath and rises on your shame.

There are days when you thought you’d made progress only to discover that you haven’t; an old memory stokes a fresh grief that feels like it will never go away. You’re stuck. There are days you have to try hard not to cry and days when you couldn’t cry if you wanted to. 

There are days you swear you’ll quit, you’ll walk if it happens again and if something around that place doesn’t change; on that same day you remember you really can’t do that.  

There are days that seem to bring nothing but trouble and heartache. We want nothing more than to get through them, and then forget them if we can.

Red Letter Reassurance
On days like that we need some red letter reassurance – words of Jesus that give us a place to take a stand and hold our ground. We need a promise that’s bigger that our problems. Almost any of the red letter words can put steel in our souls, but few pack a punch equal to the words of Jesus found in John 16:33.

A little context: There’s a section of John’s gospel that is often spoken of as Jesus’s farewell discourse. This material begins in John 13 when Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. This act of humble service is followed by a fairly lengthy mix of dialogue and monologue in which Jesus is trying to prepare his closest friends for his impending suffering and death, hinting at the resurrection but trying not to overload them with more than they can handle.

Near the end of this farewell discourse Jesus summarizes by saying, “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).         

Peace in Trouble
In these few brief sentences a couple of things are certain.

First, Jesus wills our peace and his words make that peace possible. He spoke to his disciples for the purpose of imparting peace to them. The red letter words are not meant to confuse us or fill our minds with information. The words of Jesus are meant to change us. They make it possible for us to live at peace.

At the same time Jesus is very clear – the peace we yearn for will not be found in this world. This world is broken and to live in it is to know trouble and affliction. Jesus doesn’t dance around this truth. It’s not a question of ‘if’ trouble will come, but ‘when’ and ‘how.’       

The red letter reassurance reminds us that while trouble may be certain, it will not triumph. Jesus has overcome the world. The death and resurrection of Jesus is God’s declaration that suffering, in all its manifestations, will not have the last word on your life.

So yes, there are days you’d never want to live through again. Today may be such a day for you. Take your stand on the red letter reassurance that a different day is coming. Let that promise give you peace. Jesus wants you to have it.     

Gracious God, every one of our days comes to us as a gift.  We do not always receive them that way.  There are days we’d gladly forget, when troubles threaten us and weakness gets the best of us. In every such day you walk with us. Your words give us peace, even in our affliction. Great is your faithfulness and we give you thanks in Jesus’s name. Amen.