I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of pain. When I was pregnant with my first child, I vowed, “I’m going to power through childbirth the natural way!” Hours into labor, nothing was more welcome than the absurdly long needle administering pain relief. Sometimes even a microscopic paper cut can throw off my day. We humans aren’t wired to want to be in pain or go through hardship. And so often, we do everything we can to avoid it. We ignore. We self-medicate. But Jesus assures us: “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33).
When Jesus spoke these words, he was beginning his walk to the cross, taking a final opportunity to encourage and prepare his disciples for the life-changing events to come. He wanted them to be aware of the troubles they would endure as bold Christ followers.
So why would we want to embrace trouble? It sounds crazy and counterintuitive. But trouble turns us to God. It helps us recognize—and treasure—his blessings. Only after we’ve endured the valleys can we truly appreciate the sweet joy of the mountaintops. Living through hardships also helps us help others. Having someone walk alongside us in times of pain, someone who has been there, is one of the greatest byproducts of hardship.
Yes, Jesus tells us we’ll have trouble. But that’s not the end of the story. He concludes with this: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Hang in there, friend. This world is hard. But Jesus has conquered it.