Coping With Life's Troubles

John 16:33

How many of us would like a life that is pleasant and free of troubles? I would. Where do I sign up? Most of us make every effort to reduce the stresses and pressures of daily life. We strive to create a lifestyle that is as pleasant and trouble free as possible. Then just when everything seems to be falling into place, some problem comes along and bursts our bubble. Today Jesus shares some straight talk with his followers. He is direct and honest about the challenges they will face. He warns, In this world you will have trouble.

When you start to unpack the word trouble, you quickly discover that it carries a lot of baggage. On the eve of His greatest tribulation in this world, Jesus cautioned, In this world you will have persecution, hardship, suffering, affliction, trials and distress. The word Jesus used, tribulation, includes all of the different kinds of troubles I just mentioned. The word tribulation packs a powerful punch.

These aren't your run of the mill aggravations. Tribulations are the intense, life-changing troubles that hit with the force of a tornado, hurricane, earthquake or tidal wave. When tribulation strikes, it leaves the good life you were building in ruins. Six months after Hurricane Sandy, there are still people living in shelters and struggling to recover. Thats the intensity of this word tribulation. At times life in this world can be good, pleasant and happy, but it isn't always that way. Jesus encourages his followers to keep their expectations realistic. After all, we are still living in this world that has been subjected to frustration by the Creator. We are not experiencing life in the world to come where the the old order of things has passed away.

In this world you will have trouble. Its a fact we may not like to hear. Yet there is no reason for Christians experiencing tribulation to fall into absolute despair and hopelessness. Jesus says, But take heart! Jesus commands His followers to be cheerful, confident, and courageous when they experience troubles in this world. Now that is easier said than done.

How can you or I be cheerful when our circumstances make us sad and unhappy? How can we be confident when our human hopes and dreams for the life we wanted in this world are in shambles? How can we be courageous when trouble heats up and fear melts our hearts like wax and makes us faint? You change your focus. Instead of staring at the tribulation, you turn away from it and fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith. Be cheerful! Be confident! Be courageous, Jesus says. I have overcome the world. Through faith in Christ, we find the courage to face our troubles with a confident hope of ultimately overcoming in the life of the world to come.

So how do we put this hope into practice right now? Does sin still beat you up and knock you down? Stop wallowing in guilt. Dont get depressed and let sin defeat you. Cheerfully turn to Christ. Be confident that His death on the cross forgives every sin. Be courageous and ask the Savior who overcame sin for you to take that sin and remove it from you as far as the east is from the west. Do you struggle to think and act like a person who is following Jesus? Living the Christian life is not an easy or quick undertaking. So dont get down on yourself and start telling yourself you are a failure. Cheerfully turn to Christ. Be confident that Jesus rose from the dead so that you can live a new life. Courageously ask Jesus to keep on filling you with the Holy Spirit and help you live a new life.

Are your hopes and dreams for life in this world being frustrated? Are you throwing a pity party? Cheerfully turn to Christ. Be confident that the Lords plan for you in this world and the next cannot be thwarted. Courageously ask Christ to give you the strength to trust in God like Jesus did in Gethsemane.

Is your faith in Jesus mocked? Are you harassed because your talk about Christ or live your Christian values openly? Dont be intimidated. Dont give in to the outside pressure to make your walk with Christ a strictly private matter. Cheerfully look to Jesus. Be confident that the Lord experienced the pressure of persecution and is able to help you stand up under it. Courageously ask Him to give you a spirit of power, love and self-control. In this world Christians will have all kinds of troubles. Yet the tribulations of life dont have to plunge us into despair. Jesus has overcome the world, and by trusting in our Savior we are more than conquerors too. Instead of dwelling on your troubles, change your focus and cheerfully look to Jesus in your time of need. Be confident that your Savior experienced all the tribulations common to humanity and overcame them all for your benefit. Courageously ask the Lord to help you stand strong with the joy of your salvation and eternal hope unshaken. ~ Pastor H.

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