The following is excerpted from a devotional written by church member and intern, Corey White. You can download the devotional in its entirety here.
“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
This paradox of a passage is one of the most hope-filled yet hard-to-hear passages in all of Scripture. In the same breath, Jesus says that we will have tribulation—that pain is promised to us, that hardship and heartache are inevitable—and yet even so, we have an all-surpassing hope because He has already overcome the world. In the same breath, Jesus breaks our false sense of security—a security found in health or happiness or money or status—and then reconstructs a true security for us, a security found in Him and in what He has done. In the same breath, Jesus crucifies us on the cross with Himself and then brings us back to life again in Himself. In the same breath, Jesus Christ acknowledges our pain as real, and then gives us the answer in overcoming it—an unwavering hope that He has already overcome it for us.
In the middle of this paradoxical statement Jesus says two words, two words which define our present reality: “Take heart.” You see, this is where we find ourselves. We find ourselves in the middle. We are in the middle of this paradox, where tribulation is coming and is here, and yet has already been dealt with and defeated by Jesus. It’s what we call the already-but-not-yet. It’s the middle of a battle that is ongoing and yet already won. It’s the middle of a promise of new life which is here already and yet not here completely. We still suffer. We still fall. We still sin. We still die. And yet, Jesus has defeated suffering. He has defeated sin. He has defeated death.
And so, we take heart. There is something profoundly comforting about these words. And it’s because, in these words, we find the essence of our faith. In fact, to take heart is quite honestly the definition of faith. Our faith, the Christian faith, is multifaceted. It’s more than “believe-ism”—wishing upon an undefined, uncertain future or believing in some ethereal universal power. It’s a faith founded in the physical and the spiritual. It’s a faith founded in all aspects of our lives: (1) our past—that Jesus Christ has come and died and rose again, (2) our present—that Jesus Christ is always with us in everything that we face, and (3) our future—that Jesus Christ will come again in glory and usher in an eternity where there will be no more suffering or sin or death. It’s a faith where we learn to take heart—to take heart in what He has already done and yet will do. Because as we know, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
And this is the call of the Christian: When all of life is crashing down around us—we say, “Take heart.” When nothing seems to make sense, when you lose your job, when you lose your health, when you lose your loved one, when the economy crashes, when an unseen virus threatens everything we see—we rest in the hope of Jesus Christ, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.
So, when tribulation comes, we know that He is there. When tribulation threatens to overcome us, He is there saying, “Take heart in Me. Take heart in the fact that no matter what happens, nothing—whether death or life, or angels or rulers, or things present or things to come, or powers, or height or depth, or anything else in all creation—can separate you from Me and My love for You. Take heart in the fact that when life feels like it is more than you can bear, I am right there beside you, begging you to give your burdens Me. Take heart in the fact that I am real and that I really came and that I really died and that I really rose again. Take heart in the fact that no matter what you face in this life—I have already overcome it.” This is our faith.
Father, You are real. You are here. You are with Me.
Holy Spirit, help me today to see the true reality behind my present circumstances. Help me to Take Heart, no matter what I face.
I believe, I really do. But please, please help my unbelief today.
And in all circumstances, I will praise You – for You are good, no matter what. In the name of Jesus Christ, the Name above every name, I pray this prayer today. Amen.
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