Good News and Great Joy

img_1564“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).

Last Thursday night my small group talked a bit about the fact that Jesus doesn’t promise us a break from suffering.  One gal even quoted the section from John 16 about how we will have trouble in this world but then I had to chime in with the second half of the verse, “Yes, But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

This last week I’ve read things which I feel speak to all three parts of that verse. Specifically about having troubles, taking heart, and having peace. For example, Lara William’s Advent devotional, then came Jesus: the Light of the world, says:

“One thing Jesus reveals in this text is that he came to earth to give us abundant life.  That doesn’t mean we won’t have suffering or difficulties.  Actually, Jesus promised we would have suffering an difficulties if we follow Him.  But … He came to give life and joy to our inner being, regardless of circumstances.  That’s abundant living.

Also, in a new book I started recently called The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp shared something which made me take heart at least:

“Can I believe in God, in Jesus, in a way that I know Jesus believes in me? Maybe it isn’t enough to believe in Jesus–maybe I have to believe that Jesus believes enough in me to choose me. If Christ has chosen me, can He not believe in me? Can I believe Jesus believes in me?

And what do I know about living as if He does believe in me? Nothing can possibly separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. And yet I doubt? Wasn’t that cross on my wrist Jesus’ sign of believing in even me? Jesus calls us to the abundant life because He knows He can empower and fill us with His Spirit.  And if He believes in us and what can be given through us, how can I not believe?”

Then I read this (in)courage blog post which talked about God’s peace:

“No matter what happened in the months and years ahead, Christ would go with me. He would take care of me. And as long as I went with Him, I didn’t need to fear the future, because Christ was already there.

That Christmas Eve, I was given the gift of peace. I walked away from the decorated tree that night without fear of what was ahead, trusting that while my childhood days were over, my days as a child of God would never, ever end.”

All these different readings from different sources in conjunction with my small group’s discussion somehow tied things together for me.

Yes, God promises we will have struggles in this world but our full life in Christ can happen in spite of and in the midst of these things.

Yes, we can take heart in the knowledge that God is for us and believes in us, which should then help us give more of this “Christ in us” to others.

Yes, God’s peace about our future (and specifically about our future in Christ) can come to us at Christmastime and always.

This is good news and great joy for all the people! (Luke 2:8-11)

**Note to subscribers: I won’t post during the next two weeks as I’m taking a break for the holidays.  So look for the next post in your inbox on Monday, January 9th.  Thanks for your patience and Merry Christmas to all!!**

Love to Hear Your Thoughts!