One Sunday, in the middle of winter, I made the mistake of teaching on John 16:33:
“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.”
Immediately after the closing prayer, one family went out into the sub-zero weather to find that they had left the van’s lights on and their battery was dead. Another family discovered their four-year-old had gotten into their van, turned it on and backed over a parking bumper. The worship leader went home to find her husband gone with a note telling her he wanted a divorce. That night the church’s hot-water heating pipes froze up and the parsonage’s furnace broke down. A parishioner offered to thaw out the church’s pipes with a blow torch and caught the building’s subflooring on fire. Then things got worse!
The next Sunday, I promised never to speak on that passage again.
“Trouble” seems to be life’s default setting: flat tires, kidney stones, IRS audits . . . the list goes on and on. So, I’m assuming you and I will be facing some trouble this week. But Christ offers us “peace” and “overcoming” victory this week as well. That’s why Paul can write:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:7-9).
So, I hope you’re having a “but not” week! We will have trouble, but not defeat!
©2009 James N. Watkins
For more hope and humor, visit jameswatkins.com