John 16:33 says, “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.” Well, if that’s not clear and straightforward, I don’t know what is! No hidden message there! We will face obstacles in this world. Anything from temptation to financial strain to illness to inconceivable tragedy can come our way. What can we do? We may not be able to control the circumstances in our lives, but I believe God wants us to be strong in Him, to be equipped and ready. He wants us healthy, mind, body, and soul, so that we’ll be able to stand firm when the storms of life rage.
Peter offers some excellent guidance on how to deal with the tough times. Take a look at 1 Peter 5:7-10. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” When we face obstacles, it’s so easy to be anxious and bear burdens God never intended for us to bear. Give the situation to God. He doesn’t want us hiding in a hole, waiting for the storm to blow over, but He doesn’t want us to worry or be anxious either. Walk WITH God through the situation. Let Him be a part of it, and let Him be your guide.
Secondly, Peter tells us to “be alert and of sober mind” because Satan is looking to destroy us. Once again, we have a very straightforward message. The enemy is real, so be aware, but always remember that our Mighty God is bigger and better and will reign victorious! The Greek word for sober refers to being free from toxins and is associated with being watchful. We need to aim for having a mind that is spiritually sober. Basically, we need to get rid of our “stinking thinking” as Melissa would say. We can guard our minds by reading His Word, memorizing scripture, listening to music that glorifies God, etc. Be picky about what you’re listening to and watching. Feed your mind the good stuff!
Confession time! When I’m stressed or tired, I just want to collapse on a couch in front of a TV and set up camp there, maybe grab a bag of chips for good measure. There is nothing wrong with spending a little bit of time doing that, but not all of your time. If I’m spending all of my time vegetating, I’m not in His word, not praising Him, and certainly not trying to get recharged through Him. My vegetating isn’t going to keep my mind and spirit (or any part of my being for that matter) sharp and alert. I’m learning to rest in a different way, to rest in Him. We need to unwind and decompress, but we can’t drop our guard.
Thirdly, Peter tells us to “resist him, standing firm in the faith.” This goes back to the other Generation Hope articles. We need to remember what is true! The enemy will twist, manipulate, and distort the truth, so we need to remember the truth of God and His Word. We need to remember our identity. We are daughters of the Most High King, but we better believe that Satan wants us thinking otherwise. We need to remember our purpose! We have a destiny. The Lord has plans for us!
Fourthly, we’re reminded that we’re not the only ones facing difficult circumstances. The enemy wants us to feel isolated, alone, and thinking that nobody else is struggling and that nobody else understands. Lies!!! We’re in this journey together as brothers and sisters in Christ. We will all face trials in this world, so let’s uplift and encourage one another. Share what you’re going through with someone trustworthy. Don’t let the enemy make you feel like you can’t tell anybody what’s going on in your life. The prayers, support, and edifying words of others are powerful!
Lastly, Peter tells us that after suffering, our graceful God will “restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” These trials will refine us. We might not see how any good could possibly come from them. Even though stormy times are not fun to go through, we come out with a stronger faith. We see that God’s Word is true. We see His character. We find out that He is exactly who He says He is. Melissa has talked about this before, but it’s so true and a perfect fit for this article. We become witnesses of God’s faithfulness. We walk out of the storm knowing that when the next one strikes, God is faithful. If He’s carried me through it before and been all that He says He is, He’ll certainly do it again and certainly be the same the next time.
Speaking from my own experiences, I know how easy it is to focus only on the first part of John 16:33. Life can be overwhelming. I know what it’s like to feel like I’ve been cut at the knees, unable to stand anymore. Life can be scary, discouraging, and even mind-boggling at times. Quickly, without warning, the dark tempestuous clouds can come rolling into our lives. We might be caught off guard at times; I know I have. When the anxiety builds, when you’re worn out, when unexpected things happen, just stop. Remember all of those truths that were mentioned in the above paragraph. If you need to, speak those truths out loud, write verses on index cards and stick them where you’ll see them, blast that praise and worship music, and proclaim the promises of God. Most importantly, don’t forget the last part of John 16:33 which says, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Don’t lose heart. Don’t give up. Press forward knowing that God is over it all and that you’re on the winning side!
More verses are posted below that pertain to going through tough times. If you’re facing an obstacle, I encourage you to make time to read these verses. In your quiet time, read through them, maybe journal your thoughts about them, or make them into a prayer for your life. Ultimately, let God meet you where you are. Rest in Him in a way that will renew you and keep your thoughts fixed on Him (Hebrews 3:1).
Philippians 4:4-9 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Romans 5:1-5 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”