John 16:33: “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.”

If life had a name, then I’m sure its middle name would be Trouble with a capital T. First and last name? Constant Change! And we can get overwhelmed; we can get stuck; we can get overly attached; we can get numb; we can get depressed; we can get sweetened or hardened dealing with whatever life throws at us. Note that our hearts are fragile. We need to take good care of our hearts, or else we’ll be overcome by life’s middle name.

How we handle trouble is similar to digestion. Food is worthless and can actually kill us if our bowels refuse to work and our whole digestive system shuts down. Food has to be processed to be of any value. So does life. We need to take time to process life’s events, especially life changing events.

Allow yourself a break when lots of things happen, when we arrive at a crossroad; when changes come our way, when we feel pushed in a corner, when we feel powerless, when we feel angry, especially when we feel defeated and don’t see a way out of a situation. All of that are sure indicators that we need a Time Out.

Jesus spoke words of life into everybody’s struggle when He said:

  • “Take heart!”

We need to take our hearts seriously. The best favor we can do to ourselves is to reconnect with our Creator.

Jesus said:

  • “I have overcome the world”.

Knowing and believing that Jesus can work through every issue with us will guard our hearts from descending into desperation. Jesus added:

  • “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.”

The most precious ointment on a wounded and broken heart is the ointment of peace: the peace of knowing everything is going to be alright; the peace of knowing that God cares; the peace of knowing we are not alone; the peace of realizing that God is near; the peace of knowing we are being carried.

Jesus can connect us to peace because He is the source of peace. Shortly before His death He told His followers (John 14:27):

“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.”

“Peace be with you” is not an empty wish of His. It is quite real. And Jesus wants to lay it on us. Take it from the One who knows you best and let His peace reign in your heart and soul.

Job 23:10-11: “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside.”

Dysfunction Junction – have you ever been there? Job was in this place, a place where the tides had turned against him. In the beginning of Job’s story everything seemed fine, even though we can already feel that trouble was in the making. In the first chapter of the book of Job we see the writing on the wall as we are introduced to his family (Job 1:4-5):

“His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, ‘Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.’ This was Job’s regular custom.”

Apparently, Job gave his children quite a bit of leeway. They threw parties and spent his money with little interference or parental input. All the while he intervened on behalf of them making sure his family remained in good standing with God. That would be similar to bailing out our sons and daughters every time they came in conflict with the law.

Taking a closer look at the lady in Job’s life, the woman he was married to for better and for worse did not appreciate Job minus his fortune. Her reaction after all their children were killed and their material possessions were gone (Job 2:9):

“His wife said to him, ‘Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!’”

So on this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day Job’s wife showed her true colors. Job was left sitting in the dirt scraping his painful sores. He had no family left, no money, and he was breaking out with a strange skin disease.

On top of that, his friends paid Job a visit. “Nobody knows you when you’re down and out” could have been a blues written by Job because his friends truly did not know him. Here is their pep talk (Job 20:4-5 The Message):

“Don’t you even know the basics, how things have been since the earliest days, when Adam and Eve were first placed on earth? The good times of the wicked are short-lived; godless joy is only momentary.”

Job’s friends were not exactly subtle. They plainly said that all the tragedies befalling him were his own fault. Despite their horrible and demeaning input, however, God came through for Job in the end and set the records straight.

Sometimes everything has to be stripped away so that we can focus on the one thing that matters. We can read Job’s takeaway at the end of his story (Job 42:5-6 The Message):

“I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise! I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”

While Job’s friends obviously misjudged the situation Job was in, Job himself was caught in confusion and therefore misjudged God. He simply did not know the Lord as well as he thought he did.

While nobody likes to go through a crisis, the results can be both eye-opening and transformative. Depending on how we negotiate the pain, we will become more empathetic with people facing similar issues; additionally, we grow closer to the Lord. And the greatest blessing a crisis could yield – probably Job would agree – is growing closer to God.

Matthew 6:27: “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Trouble and worry go together like an old pair of shoes. Quoting from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, a former tax collector by the name of Matthew wrote in his gospel (Matthew 6:34):

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew did not grow up dreaming of a career as a tax collector. His job was offered to him by the Roman authorities who occupied Israel at the time Matthew was alive. Maybe he was an educated man or had other qualities that made him stand out. He accepted the job because his own financial situation may have left him no choice – who knows? What we do know about Matthew is his instant attraction to Jesus when He came along. And Jesus, who knows human hearts, read him like a book.

Inspired by Matthew’s heart, Jesus told a story. In His story a Pharisee, overly impressed with his own accomplishments, is contrasted with a tax collector who humbly asks God for mercy. Matthew had never laid eyes on Jesus before, so this was the first time He witnessed one of His public speeches. And suddenly it dawned on him: The hero of the story was a tax collector. Wow, someone like him – a hero?

Matthew the tax collector was viewed as someone who supported the Roman Empire and therefore was despised by the people. As time went by he grew tough and stopped caring about the hateful comments he heard almost every day, but the life of a public enemy was lonely. Jesus’s story cut him to the core, and he wanted to be near this man for the rest of his life. He got up and left his tax collector’s booth for good. Even though he just barely knew Him, Matthew trusted Jesus completely. Following Jesus, he threw all of his worries overboard and began to live one day at a time.

Trouble is a standard byproduct of living in this world. There is no such thing as an untroubled life for anybody. What Jesus is offering us is peace in the midst of adversity. Living like the birds in the air or the flowers in the field is living one day at a time without worrying about the future. God won’t take away our troubles, but He is well able to take care of our worried minds.