Jesus says in John 16:33 “In this world, you will have trouble.” Will have trouble. Not might. Not could. Will.
Sometimes it is easy to focus just on success stories and forget that trials and challenges should be an expected part of life in a broken world. A Sinapis alumnus recently shared a story that reminded us that while Kingdom Business is an amazing tool of transformation, it is in no way immune to the troubles Jesus described in John 16.
An employee that our friend had spent years discipling and developing as an apprentice was found to be stealing repeatedly from the company. When the theft was brought to light, the employee abruptly resigned. But the story didn’t end there. After a few days, the man returned with a local union representative dishonestly claiming that he was owed years of back pay. In turn, other employees began to question the owner’s goodwill and integrity. The entire process was devastating for our friend. He runs his business for God’s glory and was trying to make a lasting investment in this man’s life. Instead of seeing that bear fruit, he now has a depleted staff, distrust among his team, and the nagging question of whether this was worth the effort.
Jesus promised: You will have trouble.
Situations like these are not limited to business owners. They can occur in all corners of our lives. So what can we do when our best intentions and sacrifices don’t work out the way we dreamed? How can we hold onto hope and trust in God’s good plan?
Cry out to God. “In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears” Ps. 18:6. Over and over in the Psalms, we see the writers cry out to God. Sometimes God immediately delivers the person from the trial. Other times He doesn’t. Yet even in the waiting, peace descends as we know with confidence that the Almighty has heard our cry.
Practice persistent faith. The key lesson our friend shared as he described what God was teaching him was that there is a difference between “victorious faith” and “persistent faith”. Victorious faith is the kind that we usually want. The stuff of David conquering Goliath. But persistent faith is the type that is esteemed in passages like Hebrews 11:13-16, 32-40. A faith of those who do not always “receive what was promised” in this life. Those who don’t always receive the rewards on earth. Those “of whom the world is not worthy”.
Remember what God has done in the past. The Israelites made a habit of setting up stones of remembrance when God did a mighty work in their midst. Why? Because hard times come. Times when it is easy to lose hope and fall into despair. But when we can remember the miraculous times, the times that we can stand with certainty on God’s love for us and His faithfulness in our midst, then we have the courage to persevere. Our stones of remembrance might be kept in a journal – a journal we need to read in the dark times. They may be brought to light in conversation with faithful friends who remind us of God’s goodness to us. Or we may simply need to sit down with a Bible and read of seas parted, walls tumbling down, virgin births, empty tombs and a God who loves us enough to give His life for us.
Learn the lessons the trial brings. We don’t like the hard times, but we often learn the most in them, don’t we? Our friend said he was learning that though his business was born out of his passion, the same isn’t necessarily true for his employees. This meant that he needed to put more controls in place to prevent these problems from happening again.
After promising the reality of trouble in this life in John 16, Jesus concludes His message with these encouraging words, “But take heart. I have overcome the world.” May we all rest in His perfect wisdom and loving heart regardless of circumstance.