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
Jesus never promised His followers the absence of trouble. Nowhere does He say to us that as a result of His coming, dying, rising, and ascending, the world is going to be a more peaceful place or that our place in it is going to be more comfortable. In fact, what He says to us is this: “In the world you will have tribulation.”
Sometimes we want to import to now that which is promised only for then—that is, for the eternal future of which Christ has assured us. We might want to claim for ourselves today those promises—wealth, healing, or absence of tribulation—that God intends to bring to fruition during the age to come. Yes, His kingdom has broken into our world with the advent of Christ. But we still await its full benefits. And if we make the mistake of thinking that God has promised us today what He has in fact only promised us in eternity, then we will certainly be disappointed, and we run the risk of turning our backs on Him on the basis that He did not deliver what He had never actually promised us.
But though we can expect to encounter trouble and tribulation right now simply because we follow Jesus as our King, we still have hope for true peace in this world. Paul writes, “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1, emphasis added). This is a peace with God that we can claim now as our own. It is freedom from the fear of judgment and death, from recrimination, and from the dredging up of all the vileness that Christ has already dealt with on the cross.
The gospel is the “good news of peace through Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:36). We still have trials. We will groan and suffer under the weight of sin—both our own and that of others. But in the good news of the gospel we have a true and steady peace, even in turbulent times. “Let not your hearts be troubled,” says Jesus, “neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). You may not feel like it’s true today, but your Lord Jesus has already overcome the world and all its troubles. The day is not yet here when He will dry all the tears from your eyes, but you can know that that day will arrive, for there is nothing in all the world that can prevent Jesus bringing His final victory. And, in the meantime, you can know that Jesus stands with you by His Spirit, no matter what trouble meets you. What tribulation faces you today? Be sure that Jesus is with you in it and that Jesus will bring you through it—for He has overcome the world. Take heart!