“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
This morning I was talking to a favorite friend of mine. We enjoyed light talk then moved into the realities of a chaotic and challenging summer.
I loved her question: “Don’t you just want to take a break from growing, a break from being transformed?”
“Yes!” I answered, “I love breaks and I do believe God gives us those. However, I want abundant life even more than the break.”
This is what I have come to understand. The world showcases the glamorous lives of the rich and famous through movies, TV and tabloids. Facebook or “Fakebook”, as my friend refers to it, portrays problem-free life. What the movies, TV, tabloids and Facebook do not properly portray is what is underneath all the glamour shots. With a close up view, there are things that even facades and make up cannot hide.
Struggle and Pain. Most of the time our lives have some element of struggle and pain. Yes, we can hide it behind facades, make up, busy schedules, exercise addictions, eating disorders, alcohol and anything else used to escape the reality of life. Nevertheless, underneath all the addictions and facades lay the same things — struggle and pain. It is the truth that we desperately don’t want to hear.
Look at the life of Jesus. He shared many wonderful, joy-filled moments with his people. There was also struggle and pain. Jesus experienced much rejection, being misunderstood, anger at those who did not understand his Father, mistrust of his own family, abandonment by his closest friends, then a trip to Calvary and an agonizing death on the cross.
Jesus understands struggle and pain. He did not die to guarantee you a pain-free life. He died to guarantee you a resurrected life. The struggle and pain in our lives are agents of change, agents to take us deeper into that resurrected life. They can be the means to our healing and freedom.
Here is the question: are you willing to trust God with your struggle and pain? Are you willing to allow Him to take you deeper into His heart, His plan, His way? If so, you have to embrace the struggle and pain and allow God to convict, heal and set free. This is our cooperative work in transformation. Like Jesus, we can overcome the world. We can overcome the pain. To overcome, we have to be willing to walk through the process of transformation. The awesome promise of God is that through that transformation we are moving from one degree of glory to another.
Yes, I know we all want a break from the transformation process God works in our lives. But brothers and sisters, we have to take heart. The victory has been won for us in the cross. It will be won in us through the Holy Spirit. We, too, will overcome the struggle and pain. In the meantime, we get to move deeper and deeper into the heart of our heavenly Father who loves us beyond comprehension and deeper into the abundant life he has planned for us.