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
As we look at events taking place in our world, it seems despite Jesus victorious proclamation, it is the enemy that is overcoming and advancing his kingdom. But this is not a pie in the sky, when we all get to heaven, in the sweet by and by statement.
Jesus did not say sometime in the future, maybe somehow, someway, someday I will overcome the world…No it was a right here right now, for all time promise, first to the twelve and to all who would follow(John 17:20).
I have subdued, conquered, prevailed to get the victory “I have overcome the world”.*
So how do we balance what we see going on in our world where right is wrong, wrong is right, and evil rather than good seems to win? I think part of the answer is that trouble or tribulation (an interesting word) is not a unplanned, unforeseen circumstance. At least in God’s plan. Because He precedes His proclamation of victory with these words
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace”
During World War II the Allied forces formulated their battle plans on the belief that victory was possible. Even though they faced an enemy who seemed unstoppable. Victory was not certain because many things could go wrong and in some cases did to frustrate their efforts. What if God had appeared to them and said “Victory is certain, you can’t see it now, but I have already defeated your enemies. Just believe what I am saying and victory without a doubt is yours.”
Would that have changed how they viewed the war, their plan to win?I think it would. There is a difference between possible and certain. This is what Jesus has promised. Unquestionable, definite, certain victory!
“In me, in my plan you can have peace because the enemy you see who appears to be winning, is already defeated. I have overcome subdued, prevailed in victory over a corrupt world system led by an enemy who was openly put to shame and defeated at the cross (Colossians 2:15)
I thought of this as I read a commentary by John Stonestreet concerning the Supreme Court decision on the Texas abortion law, and a case involving Washington state pharmacists who did not want to offer abortifacients.. In it John asks “Are you discouraged”? Yesterday, we talked about the Supreme Court’s supremely disappointing ruling against a common-sense Texas law that required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and abortion mills to meet the same safety standards as other medical facilities. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court ruled the law unduly burdened a woman’s right to an abortion. It’s just another indication that, at the end of the day, our culture is committed to sexual autonomy above anything and everything else—even the health and safety of women.
Then yesterday, we learned the Supremes had left a Washington state couple, and their right not to violate their consciences as pharmacists, out to dry. Now pharmacists in Washington state must offer abortifacients, or go out of business. For pro-lifers, these rulings can feel like a gut-punch. But let’s be clear, these decisions are by no means the end of the pro-life movement. A year ago, the Obergefell decision-making so-called same-sex “marriage” the law of the land, felt like a gut punch too. And on July 4 last year, I woke up to an email from a friend in New Zealand. He wrote this:
“Dear John, I’m celebrating American rebellion by saying extra prayers for your country, after I have prayed . . . for my own. I know from our experience here, where the gay marriage debate was lost… how discouraging the whole thing can look. The last twitchings of flabby liberalism are full of rage, but thank God, after death comes resurrection. I’m convinced we are on the cusp of something beautiful, brave, new, old and great. It’ll be deep, and it’ll be good. ‘God appeared in human form to bring the newness of eternal life; and what had been prepared by God began to take effect. As a result, all things were thrown into ferment, because the abolition of death was being carried out . . Unfortunately, we only get past the ferment by being brave now, and not running away when Ruth Bader Ginsburg roars. But isn’t that what lives, fortunes and sacred honor are for, in the end—to be pledged to Something Big?” I needed that email a year ago, and was reminded of it again yesterday. Christian, we are pledged to something big. Which is why Chuck Colson always urged us to remain at our posts, no matter how dark things get. The culture of death will not win. Christ has risen. Monday’s terrible Supreme Court decision cannot and will not stop the incredible work of pregnancy care centers, pro-life apologists, and all the everyday champions of life.
So be of good cheer. He has overcome the world.**
As I read these words by Mr. Stonestreet I wept. I wept for the suffering of those in the Middle East, I wept for lives that have been sold a lie that will trap them in a lifestyle that will destroy them, I wept for the little ones who are sacrificed on the altar of money and pleasure. But I also wept tears of joy because Mr. Stonestreet is right.
Nothing will stop the victory that is already won.
The night is almost over, and the day is coming
And we can be of good cheer.
He has overcome the world!
*A fitting triumphant end to the farewell discourse Jesus begins in John 13:31.
** Commentary byJohn Stonestreet breakpoint.org