Dealing with Life
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
I have discovered that we often classify "tribulation" into two categories: it can be an inconvenience or a disruption of the "status quo"--like an unwanted dandelion invading my garden. That is the minor application. A major tribulation is one that changes things in a more permanent and disruptive way--like the effects of a storm or an invasion of insects. Either one is capable of causing my peace to disintegrate, but only if I allow it.
One of my friends lives across town at the very edge of "civilization". Years ago, she and I had walked down a pathway leading toward the towering mountains north of her house. The view was breathtaking, but since the land also contained some swampy areas, it had not been developed--until now. A new house was going up across the street, and her neighbor was totally upset about it! Her little "paradise" was being "invaded"---something the Indians felt when they saw the first white settlers moving into the American West.
Jesus offered us peace, but at the same time He promised us tribulation. I had always found that a kind of conflicting statement until I came to understand that one cannot have that peace in their life until they make the acceptance speech that goes with it. The kind of peace Jesus was talking about is not attained with having things our way; it is in having it despite things not going our way. This is the "victory that overcomes the world".
You and I treasure the brief moments of joy when we paid off the mortgage, but no sooner do we do that, when suddenly the car breaks down. After fixing it, along comes a dental bill, and after paying for that, we get to figure our taxes for the year. Plan a vacation--then come down with the flu. Unrelenting...never ending. We don't live in an Eden...yet.
There is but one guideline we can follow to get the "Jesus" kind of peace: we must expect the changes; for when our "peace" has been based on getting things our way, it will always require more..like the ravenous wolf who constantly repeats his daily hunt for food, gets his belly full, then starts the process over again the next day. Tribulation is not fun...but it is a sure sign we are in a dangerous position to let it overwhelm our joy. Jesus promised tribulation, but also added "but be of good cheer--for I have overcome the world."
I still enjoy working in my yard and garden, though there were lots of failures in last year's. Seeds I planted didn't come up. Trees had bugs eating their leaves. Annoying neighborhood pets kept using my lawn as a bathroom. Moose nibbled away my best efforts, and at times I wasn't physically able to do all I wanted to. Sometimes I wanted to let the forest have it all back.
It can be the same in regards to people. We sometimes want to give up on people who have treated us wrongly, forsaken us, nibbled away and attacked our efforts. Peace seems so hard to attain at times. But a sure help is a kind of diversionary tactic I use for myself. I walk outside to see beauty emerge from a rosebush I planted, luscious strawberries that will fill my freezer, grateful butterflies sucking nectar from my begonias, and return indoors to my computer and download an email or two from strangers or friends who took the time to tell me thanks for putting words on the internet that brought them His peace when the moles were burrowing holes in their lawn...
MARY E. ADAMS