SOURCE: Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 63.
“In this world you will have trouble.” John 16.33
The fact that God is good does not mean that he will insulate us from all suffering.
Rather, it means that he will be with us in our suffering and accomplish good through it (Isa. 43:2-3).
J.I. Packer writes, “We see that he leaves us in a world of sin to be tried, tested, belaboured by troubles that threaten to crush us–in order that we may glorify him by our patience under suffering, and in order that he may display the riches of his grace and call forth new praises from us as he constantly upholds and delivers us.”
Imagine this scenario: Jesus is ascending back to heaven as his disciples are looking on and he tells them, “I’ve got to go now. Hang in there, and best of luck.” Sound ludicrous? It would be almost impossible to continue following someone who left you like that. Even those of us who have blood type D (duty) would eventually need a transfusion of something; something to give us hope in this broken world. If that had been the case, then Jesus would have truly left us behind. But that’s not how the story goes.
He left us ahead; he told us what it was going to be like, no surprises (John, chapters 14-16):
- The world will hate you.
- They will persecute you.
- They will put you out of the synagogue.
- They will think that killing you is a service to God.
And he told us right where he would be:
- I will be with you.
As we suffer conflicts, insults, and other hardships, we must remember that Christ is our Emmanuel–God with us!
We press on through those valleys of the shadow of death, but we don’t press on alone; no, we have the presence of the living Christ guiding, encouraging, refining, strengthening, and protecting us all along the way. And as our faith matures, God does more and more of what God loves to do–display the riches of his grace and call forth new praises from us as he constantly upholds and delivers us.