Why Does Jesus Promise Us Trouble?

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Do you realize that trouble is a promise? Within the pages of Scripture Jesus makes a statement that very few people see or view as a promise from God. In the middle of John 16:33 Jesus said, “…In this world you will have trouble.” There it is. I know it doesn’t feel like it and you are probably not jumping up and down shouting right now, but that is a promise.

The word trouble in the Greek can mean persecution, affliction, distress, or tribulation. Jesus is warning or foreshadowing that at some point in this life you will face trouble. Just like every other promise God has made this one will come true for you as well

Imagine this: the doorbell rings. It’s a little late in the evening for visitors so you are wondering who would be coming to see you at this hour. With a mix of curiosity and a little trepidation you put on your bathrobe, turn on the hall lights and make your way down the stairs to see who is at the door. Before you open the door for a potential stranger, you peek out the window to make sure it’s safe. Finally, you open the door, and when you do what do you find? Trouble.

This is often how trouble enters your life. It shows up without warning, unannounced and most of the time when you least expect it. You are often caught off guard by its arrival and because of the surprise many times you are not prepared to deal with it. However, I would like you to look at trouble in a way you may have never considered before.

Trouble Is Not for Panic’s Sake, But for Peace’s Sake

Pause with me and let’s ask a question. Why would God say this? Is Jesus trying to work you into a panicked frenzy where you are scared to walk outside because trouble is lurking around the corner? On the contrary when you read the whole verse you will see the opposite is true. Here is the full verse:

“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).

Jesus doesn’t want you living lives filled with panic, fear, and worry. He wants you to have peace and that’s why he told you this promise. Not for panic’s sake, but for peace’s sake.

My wife and I had been married for about 8 months living in our apartment in Queens, NY. Everything was going well until the dreaded conference call happened. I still remember the call to this day and even now whenever there is a big conference call scheduled for work my wife gets nervous. The call included about 100 people and when it ended, everyone on the call was unemployed. To magnify the situation, we discovered shortly thereafter that my wife was pregnant. You know what that was? Trouble. Unexpected. Unannounced. Unwanted. Yet, this is exactly how it happens. Think about it:

When is it ever a good time to get laid off or face financial trouble?

Who wants to receive a bad medical diagnosis or have someone suddenly die in their family?

Who wants their spouse to tell them they no longer want to be in the marriage?

Who expects their friend to turn their back on them for no reason?

Who is anxiously waiting for persecution to arise because they are standing up for their faith?

No one. No one does this. No one wants this. No one expects this. You don’t want it and neither do I. However, that is how trouble works. It never comes at the right time. In fact, there is no right time for trouble to come. That’s why Jesus’ words have more power and more weight because when it does arise, instead of panicking you can have peace.

In football and sports teams usually spend a lot of time studying the film of their opponents. They are looking for their opponents’ tendencies, habits and even their tells. Coaches can study films so much that they can decipher that if the defense lines up in this formation then more than likely this is what they are going to do. The coach prepares the players so that when they see it happen in the game they will know exactly what to do.

This is what Jesus was doing for you in John 16:33. He was preparing you for the reality of life. He was letting you know that at some point in life, trouble is going to happen. When it does, don’t be surprised and don’t panic. Be prepared and ready to deal with it.

What Is the Right Response to Trouble?

When your turn comes and Mr. Trouble shows up at your door, what should you do? Here are three things you can do, according to John 16:33.

1. Recognize – Acknowledge right away that this is a troubling situation. It’s not what you expected nor what you wanted but it’s here and you are going to deal with it head on. You are not going to bury your head in the sand wishing for it to go away. Burying your head in the sand doesn’t make the problem go away. It only makes your hair harder to wash because you have to get all the sand out. So, when trouble comes, stand up, recognize it, and face it.

2. Relax – In the moment it comes, remind yourself why Jesus told you trouble would come – so that in him you would have peace. God’s promises are designed to give you peace. They allow you to look at the situation and in moments when you should be panicking, you can have peace. Your peace will not come by worrying about the situation, but by relaxing and resting in Jesus. When you do, you can experience the type of peace that transcends the moment and helps you endure even the most difficult situations.

3. Rejoice – In the last part of the verse Jesus says take heart. That word in the Greek can also mean be of good cheer. In other words, rejoice. Now I don’t expect you to rejoice over the trial. However, you can rejoice in the trial. That’s right, in the middle of the hard place you can rejoice remembering how good God is and because you know Jesus has already overcome. The victory has already been won. The answer is on its way. You can now rejoice as you wait for it to be manifested.

Where Do You Go from Here?

This is the best part. Don’t spend your days worrying or looking for trouble. Spend your days drawing near and getting to know your savior. Build your relationship through prayer and get to know him through his word. Know that ready or not, one day trouble is going to show up at your door. But you don’t have to be frightened or even panic. You can face life’s troubles with peace. You can recognize, relax and rejoice your way through trouble taking heart in knowing that your savior has already overcome, and he will bring you through.

Clarence Haynes

Clarence Haynes