“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 NIV
This past week a sweet couple from the church where I work bought me lunch. It was sesame chicken from a local Chinese restaurant. Inside the brown paper bag that held my meal was a fortune cookie. I love fortune cookies, not because I believe they are accurate, but because I find them humorous and usually over the top. This one did not disappoint. It read, “Your life will be happy and peaceful.”
As I thought about these words on that little slip of paper, I wondered how other people might describe a happy and peaceful life. They might say it’s a life without physical or emotional pain. Some might describe it as a life where you never experience loss and always have more than you need. Others might say a happy and peaceful life is a life without suffering.
As a Christian, I am faced with the reality that we live in a broken world because of sin. The idea of a life this side of heaven that is free of suffering is just not realistic. Surely, if we live long enough we will face loss, heartache, disappointment, rejection, financial burdens and even physical pain. This brokenness is evident in our relationships with others and in the state of the world around us.
But there is good news! It is possible to experience joy and peace in a broken world, and it has absolutely nothing to do with your current situation. Instead it has everything to do with what has been done for you.
In John 16, Jesus knew he was going to be crucified. He warned His disciples that they were going to experience grief. However, Jesus also knew that three days after His death He would rise from the dead, defeating sin and death for all who believed in Him. Because of this, he then told His disciples not to worry because their grief would turn to joy and in Him they could have peace.
Joy and peace are available to all who believe. It doesn’t mean we won’t experience pain and suffering in this life, but it does mean we will not be defeated by that pain and suffering. Instead, we will take heart and look to the One who has overcome the world.