In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.
This has been a week.
There is a lot of stuff out there trying to cause trouble.
Just hard stuff.
People I love are sick, are dying, are struggling, and it’s hard to trust that God wins.
Because sometimes it doesn’t feel that way at all.
Sometimes it feels like cancer is winning.
Or hate is winning.
Or prejudice and injustice are winning.
And in the midst of those really hard things, hearing LOVE WINS isn’t all that helpful.
But it is.
It is true, I mean.
Even in the moments where it feels the LEAST true,
The last time I used this verse was almost exactly a year ago.
July 8th 2016.
There were protests and shootings and it felt pretty dark.
This year, the tension almost feels heavier, if that’s possible.
And somehow it feels like the hits just keep on coming.
More people getting sick.
More people struggling.
So what are we supposed to do with this exactly?
How are we supposed to trust the truth we have in front of us?
I wish I knew.
I wish I could give you a magic phrase or activity that would magically solve all the doubts and fears and struggles. But I don’t have it.
All I know is that God has promised that we are not alone, and that love wins.
That’s what I have.
And even for me, some days that doesn’t feel like it’s remotely true.
This verse from John 16 is a part of what is commonly referred to as the farewell discourse.
Jesus is talking about his leaving, and the disciples were confused and scared.
They did not like the world within which Jesus was leaving them.
And they were not confident that they had everything they needed to make it.
And Jesus reminded them that he isn’t going to leave them alone, and that even though the world is going to give them trouble
(I like to think this is the Jesus way of saying crap happens)
they should “take heart.”
The Greek there is actually tharseo, which is often translated as “have courage” but the literal meaning of this word is “to be emboldened from within.”
I LOVE this.
And you know what is within us? The spirit.
This past weekend was Pentecost where we celebrate the movement of the spirit and the recognition and celebration of how we are NOT left alone and how through the Spirit God is always with us as we are sent into the world.
The messy, crap-happening filled world.
So when we are tharseo – emboldened from within – it is the movement of God within us, reminding us that we are children, and beloved and not alone.
And then Jesus says that he will overcome the… wait for it – WORLD.
The same place that gives us trouble? Overcome.
The scary, confusing, dark, heavy, difficult, world is going to be overcome.
And then Jesus goes and shows us what he means.
He Dies AND rises.
Reminding us all once and for all that love really does win.
Shows us that love, when it’s right up against the hate and destruction of this world, always wins.
The things that are not of God,
those things that bring us down and cause us to struggle, they will not stay.
They cannot stand.
They do not win.
I watched it happen this week.
More than once even.
It’s still happening.
Even now. Even in you.
That’s the truth.