If you are like me, you have seen glimpses of your own story amidst hearing others’ RStories on Sunday mornings. We all walk through seasons and stages of life that are similar because they are part of living in a fallen world. Our exact paths and trials may not be the same, but the Bible is clear that walking with Jesus does not mean an “easy” life. In fact, right before Jesus is arrested, he tells his disciples… “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 NIV)
The Bible is full of promises. Many of them are inspiring and uplifting and immediately remind you of God’s love, comfort, goodness, victory, etc. This promise in John 16 does not sit the same way. It is a promise of problems. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of trouble is lengthy. Words it uses in the definition of trouble are anguish, unrest, difficulties, distress, annoyances, pains, affliction, worries, and disturbances. For some people, this exact promise is the reason why they refuse to open their hearts to God. The reasoning I often hear for lack of faith is found in this question, “why would a good, loving, and all-powerful God allow trouble, pain, anguish, sickness, and death?” It all hinges on the fact that we are not robots created by God, but a people made in HIS image with FREEWILL.
It all began in the garden of Eden. Genesis 2:16-17 says, “And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” If you know the rest of the story, then you know that the first people chose to eat from the forbidden tree. Our ancestors chose death and sin, and brokenness became a part of life. There it is… the promise from Jesus, “In this world you will have trouble.”
However, don’t despair because this is why the promise of brokenness from Jesus is so beautiful. The next sentence in John 16:33 says, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Oh, how beautiful. We will not be spared trouble this side of heaven, but we have a redeemer, friend, and savior in Jesus. He will overcome! Our story does not have to end in death, but in beautiful redemption at the cross. And that is what we have seen in RStories. Troubled stories, broken worlds, and a people that amidst it all still stand to say… but Jesus. RStories, your story, and my story give witness to a broken world, and they don’t all end with a pretty, happy bow. But they can be stories of a good and faithful God, who does not leave amidst the pain of this world. One that walks alongside his people and gives peace beyond all human understanding. He is a God that forgives, comforts, heals, and holds steadfast amidst the trials of life.
So, I encourage you to go back over your own life story and that of your family’s journey so far. Where has God shown up? Where has he walked through fire with you? Where has he provided when you prayed for it and even when you couldn’t? Where has he blessed you? When has he found you in the wilderness and pulled you out? How many times has he protected you? Where can you see healing in your story? Write it down. All of it. Over and over. Tell it to your children. Weave it into your family history. A friend told me years ago to write down all the good things God has done and paste it somewhere you look every day and can keep adding to it. A wall of God’s goodness and faithfulness in your life. Reminders to bolster your faith when the troubled waves of the world threaten to drown you and those you love. I built a wall of God’s provision for a while, and then we moved homes and never picked it back up. This series of RStories has reminded me to build that wall of God stories in my home again and is a summer goal for my family. Your story may not be displayed on the stage this time, but if you let God walk with you amidst the joys and sorrows of life it is no less powerful. “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.” Psalm 30:11-12
-Written by Jessica Delp