Monday, October 22, 2012

FAVORITE VERSES SERIES: Foreigners

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
~John 16:33, NLT~

Two weekends ago I experienced a remarkable encounter with God at the annual BSL Women's Retreat, which I attend every October in the refreshment of Wisconsin's Northwoods.   The above verse was the focus of this years theme, "Goodbye Ordinary".  While we enjoyed activities such as a prayer walk, horseback riding, crafts and a boat ride during the Autumn afternoon, we steeped ourselves in learning to live as overcomers in Christ during the morning and evening general sessions. Returning home, I found myself transformed in deeper and richer ways.  As a result, I thought it was important to make this key verse our featured favorite for the week.

Pulling apart our verse, I want to start in the middle.  Jesus tells us, "In this world you will have trouble."  He does not say "you may" or "you might".  Rather Jesus assures that "you will."

This is heartbreaking and discouraging to us as humans.  We don't want to be told that in this world we will have troubles, trials, heartaches, sorrows.  Really, in our deepest core, it is shocking to hear that.  Our expectation is that we should have good and pleasant circumstances in which to live, with sound health, happy relationships, financial stability and general well-being.  

Digging deeper in the context of parenting a child with special needs, much of our daily work is spent in dealing with the trials and sorrows that the world seems to pile onto families like ours.  We battle the difficulties of teamwork with schools and obtaining an optimal education for our children.  Hours are spent making critical medical and therapeutic decision on behalf of our precious sons and daughters.  There can be significant distress as we fight with those very medical staff who are supposed to be our helpers.  Trouble can face us when doctors or therapists are not proceeding the way we think is best for those we love.  

Add to these conflicts with other humans the unexpected traumas that face us in our journey as parents of children with diagnoses.  Financial angst can face us as we seek to pay for the best possible care for the ones we love.  Quite suddenly, insurance companies can deny claims causing us to spend endless hours trying to remedy the situation. Physical setbacks or traumatic episodes can occur depending upon the diagnosis.  Due to our children's compromised state, new illnesses can attack or deterioration occur.  Medications that were once effective in treating our child can even stop working.
In light of all of these heavy concerns, is it any wonder we parents feel overwhelmed?  Oh, how often we pray for just a break in the storm!  Will it ever get better, we wonder?  We just need some peace.  It would feel so good to get our heads above water if only for a short while.

The good news is that our Savior lovingly knows the cries of our souls.  This is why he tells us, "Take heart!  I have overcome the world!"  He knows that we expect better because we are actual foreigners here.  He didn't make us for a world of sin.  He made us for heaven!  He encourages us because He knows He has provided the way out of these less-than-perfect circumstances.  He is the way!  He points us towards our divine destination, cheering us toward the finish line. Jesus knows that with his Spirit living in our hearts, we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37), able to overcome our tough situations of every kind in this life.  And He also knows that the only promise of our personal peace lays in Him.

Parents, this may sound like a unicorn, fairy utopian comment when we are facing the worst of life's battles.  But it is not.  This is practical equipment for dealing with the daily life to which we are called.  We need to cling to this verse and its truth.  Walking by our faith, not our feelings, will carry us through the worst this world can throw at us.  Jesus is the only hope for us and our children.  Tuck this verse into your heart and mind for the next time a trial washes over you, because it is sure to come.

PRAY:  Oh, Jesus, our Savior, comfort my heart and mind with these words of yours when life's next challenge faces me.  Give me peace in the storm.  Help me to understand the truth that I am destined to face troubles in this world because You made me for something better than this broken sinfulness.  By Your power alone, I can overcome.

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