“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me”—John 14:1 (NLT).
Waking up to an overcast sky recently, I smiled in spite of the gloomy weather. When I thank God for a cloudy day, I always say, “God, while the sun is not shining, your Son always shines upon us. Thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ, my Savior, my Redeemer, the lover of my soul.”
Fluffing up my pillow for a few more minutes in my warm bed, I recalled a recent conversation with one of my best friends. Her heart was troubled by the passing of several extended family members this year. I could relate.
Although I’ve not lost any family members this year, I’ve mourned the passing of two dear friends, both to cancer. One passed in February, the other in September. For a while, my heart has been troubled by their passing. Then, I remember the joy of precious memories, often related to conversations, or events we’ve shared.
Discovering Joy in Troubled Times
In James 1:2-3, we’re reminded that when troubles of any kind come our way, we should “consider it pure joy because . . . the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
Many of us struggle with this verse. How could joy come from troubled times? How does it produce perseverance? The dictionary.com definition of perseverance follows: “steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.”
In theology, perseverance means “continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.” Grace to the end. Only with Jesus.
Grace in Troubled Times
Have you ever noticed the different reactions when people face troubled times? When my friend and I were discussing the recent deaths in her family, she commented on how different the two—relatives by marriage—had faced death. One gave up on life; the other gave in to God’s grace.
The first had faced many health problems. While not that old, she gave up on living and allowed her problems to dictate every waking moment. She wanted to die, to escape the pain, leaving a son behind.
The second relative had battled cancer for several years. Yet she’d done so with grace, preparing for the eventual ending. When she realized no other medical options were available for her, the woman began planning her funeral. When the end was near, she was free to spend those final days and weeks with her family. She was at peace.
The Peace of Jesus in Troubled Times
In John 14:27, Jesus tells His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
When our lives lack sunshine, we can seek the Son’s face. In troubled times, we can find joy when we place our fears at the foot of the cross. Through His peace we can face our trials with dignity and grace.
In Matthew 28:20, Jesus tells His disciples, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” I find those words comforting. Don’t you?
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