“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, ESV)
“Reality is the leading cause of stress for those in touch with it.” A soft chuckle gurgled within me when I read these words by Lily Tomlin. When they reached my brain, I realized how true. Sometimes it feels easier to turn away from reality, because when we do stay in touch (present) with it, it can be stressful. We are living in a turbulent time.
Today, 156 lady professional golfers will play the first round of the 75th US Women’s Open in Houston, Texas. The US Open always proved to be the most stressful event I played. Typically, it is the longest and most challenging course set-up on the schedule, and mental fatigue, frustration, and bogeys were a reality.
My two biggest highlights at a US Open were finishing as the low-amateur when I was in college (my first Open ever) and making a hole-in-one during live coverage later in my career. I had some unpleasant moments too. Like when I slammed my club into the bunker after not getting my previous shot out. The consequence of my frustration was a two-stroke penalty and a missed cut.
The US Open is hard; it is not a tournament for the faint of heart. Likewise, life is hard; and our current reality is causing stress socially, politically, financially, globally, relationally, and emotionally.
Jesus said that in him we have peace and in tribulation take heart. What does take heart mean? Back a couple chapters in the Gospel of John, we read, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1). And then in verse 27 of the same chapter, John quotes Jesus saying, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Believe and do not be afraid. How do we do this, especially when we face tribulation daily? We are in the season of Advent, a four-week journey of anticipating Christ’s birth on Christmas morning and a reminder that Jesus promised he will come again. To believe is to be firmly persuaded as to something with the idea of hope and certain expectation. Do you believe (hope and expect) in Jesus the Son of God, who came and gives peace that transcends all tribulation?
What about this idea of take heart? The Greek lexicons flesh out the meaning of heart with “boldness, courage, being of good cheer, being confident.” What might it look like to be bold and courageous and confident despite the stressors that today holds? Jesus told his followers they would be sorrowful, but their sorrow will in time turn to joy (John 16:20). Along with the reality and tribulation of today, we also have Jesus’ peace and joy when we believe and take heart.
December 10, 2020
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