You Will Have Trouble

You Will Have Trouble

We don’t want trouble, but when Jesus says ‘You Will Have Trouble’, there must be something to help us through. 

There are some promises I would like God not to keep.

I’m not sure if you can still get them or not, but you used to be able to buy a little box and in it there would be little pieces of paper with a scripture on written on it.

They were called promise boxes.

Each day, or whenever you needed a little boost, you would randomly pull out a verse and see what ‘promise’ God was giving you today.

I wonder if in that little box they had the promise ‘You will have trouble.’

How would you feel if you pulled out those words?

You will have trouble

This promise comes from the very mouth of Jesus.

In this world you will have trouble. John 16:33

Other interpretations of this verse have the word tribulation, distress, suffering, trials, persecution, and dis-ease.

What the first listeners heard when this passage was read was the greek word thlípsis.

thlípsis – properly, pressure (what constricts or rubs together), used of a narrow place that “hems someone in”; tribulation, especially internal pressure that causes someone to feel confined (restricted, “without options”).

thlípsis (“compression, tribulation”) carries the challenge of coping with the internal pressure of a tribulation, especially when feeling there is “no way of escape” (“hemmed in”).

So an internal pressure, constriction, no escape.

These are the words, or thoughts under the words of many who come to Turning the Page.

There is an awareness of trouble in themselves. They are not at peace. Life and the world are crushing in on them.

It’s a promise, and it’s a promise we don’t like.

We have a deep unconscious awareness of what it’s meant to be like.

We still have the faint perfume of Garden of Eden perfection somewhere deep in our souls, but there is a realisation that we are no longer there.

We are broken people living in a broken world where broken world choices and decisions are made. But God is in the business of making everything new, so we wait, work, and hope.

That sentence seems to be my little ‘go to’ understanding of the struggle all of us are in.

It’s actually very similar to what is sandwiched either side of ‘In this world you will have trouble.’

“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.” John 16:33

No Magic Wand

I would like Jesus to have said, ‘But I have a magic wand and will take all your troubles away.’

He doesn’t promise that, instead he invites us to have heart, to have courage and that he has been through every trouble that will be experienced.

That we are not alone in the struggle.

It’s an assurance that they can make it through the dark valley.

That he, Jesus, has been there too. Fully divine, fully human.

That he knows what it is like to be you. You’re not alone.

He knows what pain is like.

Suffering is not unusual to him.

Troubles are familiar.

In this, we find comfort and companionship.

He has overcome them all in the sense that he has been through them all and made it through to the other side.

A soul in grief

I recently sat with a man who, after some brief introductory sentences, spiraled down into the troubles in his soul.

It was grief, anger, regret, and questions upon questions about God and life and death. This had been his troubled path for many years.

I joined him for a few minutes and listened.

I didn’t want him to be alone.

I didn’t want to problem solve his mystery away with some well aimed theological constructs.

Was it uncomfortable? Yes.

Were there easy answers? No.

Did I want to move away quickly? Yes.

Did I make a difference? I don’t know.

But I hoped that in some mysterious way that I was Jesus to him in his trouble. That something, ever so small, shifted in him. That he felt the comfort of Spirit (Holy).

You will have troubles. That’s a promise.

Will you be the one that is ‘Jesus’ to the troubles of others?

I feel so much comfort from others who walked the dark valleys that I am walking through.

Sometimes it might be advice, suggestions, hard earned wisdom, but mostly it’s simply a being there and exuding a companionship that says ‘I will not leave you to face this alone’.

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Quotes to consider

  • Diamonds are found only in the dark places of the earth; truths are found only in the depths of thought. Victor Hugo Les Misérables
  • The journey to God will always, at some point, take us through darkness where life makes no sense. Life isn’t easy; it’s hard, sometimes very hard. Larry Crabb Shattered Dreams
  • Those who do not turn to face their pain are prone to impose it. Terrence Real, I Don’t Want To Talk About It
  • Redeemed pain is more impressive to me than removed pain. Phillip Yancey
  • A good journey begins with knowing where we are and being willing to go somewhere else. Richard Rohr
  • The great traditions always call people on a journey of faith to keep changing. There’s no other way this human personality can open up to all that God is asking of us. Richard Rohr. 
  • The best ally of God is what is. Not what should be, what could be, what needs be, but what is. “Isness” will lead us to perfect love. Richard Rohr -Job and the Mystery of Suffering.

Questions to answer

  1. ‘You will have trouble’ is not a very comforting thought, but how does Jesus answer this discomfort?
  2. What is most needed when someone is in the midst of troubles?
  3. Jesus speaks the truth. You’re going to have troubles. Whats it like when someone tells you the hard, honest truth?

Formation exercise

  • Consider someone you know that is experiencing trouble at the moment. Sit with them. Listen deeply. Don’t fix, advise, save, or set straight.

Further reading

Sitting Shiva is to say ‘I am with you’

Please. No Fixing, Advising, Saving or Straightening Out

But Trouble Comes 

Barry Pearman

Image: Mesut çiçen


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