In This World You Will Have Trouble
I have never been one to look to the upcoming New Year declaring how bad the current year has been. Today, however, I stopped just short of screaming, THIS IS THE WORST YEAR EVER, from the top of my lungs! This year could easily be defined by the seemingly more than my fair share of worry, heartache, stressors, and headaches that have been present throughout. I admit, I have been tempted to give in to the proverbial throwing in of the towel and waiting for the new year to begin so we can start over.
But this morning, as a new concern threatens to be added to the list, I felt inclined to stifle the scream and flip through my pictures instead. What a blessing a phone camera can be. In the midst of this really hard year, there have been a plethora of really great moments. Time spent with friends and family, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and graduations, the birth of a great-nephew and a pilgrimage to the Holy Land just to name a few. Wow!
In these images captured throughout the year, I see JOY and I am reminded that the Joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10). In them I see LOVE and I am reminded that God loves me and has a good and perfect plan for me and all who call upon his name (John 3:16, Romans 10:13). In them I see HOPE and remember that Jesus is my hope and no matter how hard the year is, he is the one who holds my future (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
Jesus said, in this world you will have trouble but take heart for I have overcome the world (John 16:33). Sometimes a change in perspective is just what we need to “take heart” and put our focus back where it belongs -off of the struggle and onto the savior.
Maybe you don’t have any pictures that help you shift your focus off the struggles and onto the Savior, let me paint a picture for you.
There is a painting I love from the story found in the gospels wherein Jesus is walking on water to the disciples and Peter says, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water,” and Jeus says, “Come.” Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But then Peter’s faith waivers and he begins to sink, crying out, “Lord, save me!” The painting is from Peter’s perspective as he is sinking into the water, the weight of doubt and fear pulling him further under. He looks upward into the loving eyes of Jesus who is bending over and holding out his hand in rescue saying, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:22-33)
I do not know what the remainder of the year holds for me or for you, but I know that God does, and even now He is preparing the way for us to walk those waters, however smooth or rocky they may be. There may be hard times yet to come, but the bad never overcomes the good with Jesus at the helm. Let’s commit to trusting Jesus and remember these things:
God is sovereign. He has control of all things even when it does not feel that way. (1 Chronicles 29:11)
God loves you and wants good things for you. (Matthew 7:11)
God has a good and perfect plan and is working all things together for His glory and the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28)
Remembering all these things, let’s shift our focus off the struggles we endure and allow our days and lives to be defined only by our relationship to Jesus.
Nehemiah 8:10 The joy of the Lord is my strength.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 10:13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
1 Chronicles 29:11 Yours Lord is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor for everything in Heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord is the Kingdom, you are exalted as head over all.
Matthew 7:11 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.