“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
You know what? It’s been a hard year, with disappointments, frustrations, and tragedies for so many people I know. I’ve also experienced some challenges.
But one thing that has made a difference in my level of contentment is not expecting everything to go smoothly or for this life to be pain-free. Whatever has happened in 2016, I’m still a happy person. Partly because I expect trouble, but I have peace.
For a long time, this wasn’t true in my life, and in my marriage. Years ago, when my husband and I faced difficulties, I got angry. Not just with him, but with how Life itself had turned on me. Hadn’t I married a great guy? Hadn’t I tried to pursue God? Wasn’t I doing better than anyone, including me, had anticipated? So why wasn’t everything working out for me?
Many marriages have problems that need solving, but then we add to that pile with issues that are really unmet expectations. We thought it would be easy — it wasn’t. We thought our spouse would agree with us — they didn’t. We thought our tough past was behind us — it wasn’t. We thought we’d have sex nearly every day — we didn’t.
I’m not saying these aren’t real issues. I’m saying we make them worse with our personal indignation, that attitude that this shouldn’t be happening to me! Well, to borrow a well-known phrase, whoever promised you a rose garden?
Last I checked, we’re not still in the Garden of Eden, the world is broken in many ways, and Jesus Himself said we’d have trouble. “In this world you will have trouble.” He couldn’t make it any clearer. The apostle Peter also reminds us that Satan’s actively trying to make our lives hard: Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We’re simply not promised perfection here.
But we are promised something that gives us hope, joy, and gratitude. “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Oh, that’s right: Jesus has got this covered.
I’ve seen God work in my life — all the trouble that my husband and I have overcome with His help. Other marriages that have come through difficulties and found a better, stronger place. Relationships reconnected. Marriage beds revived.
Maybe this holiday season, we need to remember that Jesus Christ came to Earth for one main purpose — to overcome. He overcame our sin, our hopelessness, our brokenness.
We don’t get to go through this life without challenges and hardships. We should expect trouble. But we can have peace. We can have peace that God is working in our lives and, if we ask Him to, He can work in our marriages.