“In the world, you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” * These words Jesus spoke to His disciples shortly before His crucifixion, and they are a wonderful and comforting promise to us, His children, who are so often confused by the struggles we face.
It is a reality that we will face trouble in this world, unlike the popular idea that God should take all suffering away from us and give us clear sailing from the cradle to the grave.
According to Jesus himself, this will never happen.
And it is easy to understand why. This worldly system and its shallow principles are not guided by the Spirit of God. In fact, they are guided by entirely different forces, forces that do not like to be acquainted with God and His heavenly ideas.
And because of that, we can be certain there will be lots of tribulation.
Does it matter? Not really, because Jesus has already won our main battle. Our destiny is secured. We never have to worry again about what will happen to us at the end of this earthly road. We are forgiven and are at peace with God.
But not so in the world.
The world prefers to forget about the name of Jesus. That name is offensive at Christmas, it’s best not to use it in schools and Bible studies are politically not correct. Best to get rid of that name altogether.
And that’s not a localized problem. That happens all over the world. Being Dutch, I looked up the name of Jesus in the authoritative Dutch dictionary. I expected to at least read some slightly positive explanation about the word ‘Jesus.’ Sort of like, “Jesus: Redeemer and Savior. Seen by many as the Son of God and a symbol of good and right living.”
I read: “Jesus -A curse word.” It was followed by some Dutch curse words that had Jesus at the center. Finally, at the very end, it read: “Founder of Christianity.”
The world has no relationship with God. Funny enough, the word that to many people has no meaning is still the name that countless people get hot under the collar about. That which to us is the most precious, has been turned into a curse word. How then, can we expect much good from such a world? It is that very relationship with Christ that makes our lives as Christians so meaningful and so rich.
Nevertheless, I do wonder if we as believers are sufficiently aware of the spiritual warfare that is going on all around us. If we do not have a good understanding of the real war and coast along with the whims of this world it will be very difficult to pluck the real fruits of our faith.
We have just been through the Olympics, and many athletes have been in training for years in order to perform. Athletes voluntarily submit themselves to years of sacrifice, and strenuous effort, just so they can perform that one day and go for the gold.
Paul compares us, Christians, to such athletes. We run the race of faith. Without opposition, struggle, and sacrifice we won’t be winning any medals either. Without sacrifice and without holding on to our vision, our race will not likely make an impression on Heaven and we’ll be at risk of losing our joy to a shallow, self-promoting world that laughs at the name of Jesus.
“In the world, you shall have tribulation…” Jesus Himself said so. Earthly cares and sorrows are real. We have to work, pay our bills and will come face to face with serious problems. Fear knocks on our Christian hearts as well, but Jesus is right there to tell us, “Don’t worry… I have overcome the world.” For us, all these troubles are fighting a losing battle. This world is not our home. This world is not our end station. Our future is secured by the One who already paid the price.
The real problem, our eternal destiny, is solved. The real darkness is way behind us as is brought out so beautifully in an old Dutch hymn that says something like this:
I’m walking in the light with Jesus
The dark valley is already far behind me
Securely wrapped in God’s own care
O, what a precious friend is He