Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Overcoming Darkness

Over the last several months, I have seen my fair share of darkness: watching people struggle with illness, conflict, job loss, death, and other “storms” that swell in life. When I was a kid, I used to always say, “that's not fair,” to which my dad would reply, “well, baby, life's not fair.”

The human response to pain and suffering comes in many forms. We can pacify our pain, deny it exists, distract the issue, or project our feelings on others, just to name a few. Some coping strategies can be healthy, (such as gardening or journaling) and others destructive (excessive alcohol consumption, lashing out at others).

When thinking on how to deal with dark times, I am reminded of the song, “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie. The child, being in what seems like a hopeless living situation, looks at her life from the perspective that no matter what problems she faces today, the sun will come out again tomorrow. Therefore, there is always hope. However, the promise of a better tomorrow for a believer is not an unreachable goal, but rather a promise of Scripture.

As believers, our hope rests in the knowledge of the risen Savior.  Before His persecution and death, Jesus knew the darkness his disciples would face in near future.  In His farewell discourse to the Twelve, recorded in John 14-16, Jesus tells His disciples of his death and the dark times they will face.  Yet intermixed with this proclamation are messages of promise and hope. Below is a synopsis of the promises Jesus gives his disciples in the midst of pain.

1. Preparation and Provision for eternity (14:3)
2. Proclamation of His return (14:3, 16:22)
3. Presence of the Paraclete (Holy Spirit) (14:16-25)
4. Peace amidst the pain (14:27)
5. Productivity for the kingdom (15:5)
6. Proximity to the Father (16:27)

Jesus sums up his address in John 16:33, giving the purpose of the discourse.  The verse states, " I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  The peace we can have in the midst of pain comes by way of Jesus.  Through faith in Him, believers can have a sense of wholeness and harmony in the midst of crisis.  Our response to difficult situations is to have courage (take heart).  The reason we can have courage in the midst of crisis is Jesus' victory over sin and death.  Because of His triumph over the trials and circumstances of the world, we not only have hope, but are charged to stay the course and not lose heart when darkness comes.

As I look out the window right now, the grey sky engulfs the view.  However, I know that above the clouds, there is blue sky and sun.  When facing dark times, we can have hope today, knowing that the Risen Christ still reigns and His provisions for us to prevail remain true.  While life might not "be fair," I find peace in my circumstances in the One who overcome the world.  Therefore, I will continue to trust, continue to follow, and continue to serve no matter what.