The other night at the Safe Haven, during our series — Jesus in High Definition — we had a heart-to-heart. A heart-to-heart discussion about misinformed expectations.
The premise of the talk was this: Too many of us mistakenly expect that we are entitled to a trouble-free life. We have been taught — Haven’t we? — that when the storms of life threaten to capsize our faith, Jesus will still all of our storms. When we cry out to Him in desperation, Jesus will answer all of our prayers. When we cast all of our cares upon Him, Jesus will fix all of our problems.
Oh, I know that we would not necessarily voice that expectation aloud. But when our lives crash, when something horrible happens, when the storms of life continue to blow our lives apart, how many of us have our faith shaken to the core, or perhaps even collapse completely, as if God let us down?
When we pray earnestly for something — when we ask, believe, and DON’T receive — when our prayers remains unanswered, how many of us become angry at God, resentful that He seemingly turned a deaf ear to our prayers? Or if He heard us, just didn’t care enough to answer?
So as a part of our discussion, I shared with my precious Safe Haven family my extended paraphrase of John 16, a majestic chapter in which Jesus huddled with His men in the Upper Room in order to prepare them for the single worst 24 hours of their lives.
What He said to them is equally applicable to us.
If you would like to hear the entire podcast, you can do so by clicking HERE.
This of this paraphrase as a part of The New Testament in High Definition.
Please let me know what you think.
We need to have a talk.
Because I fear that with what’s about to happen, your faith may falter and you might fall away.
Some really, really bad things are about to happen. And I don’t want you to be caught off-guard.
After tonight, you men and your families will be hunted and harassed by misguided individuals who will actually believe that they are serving God by harming you. They will hunt you and harm you with a religious fervor, just like they are about to hunt and harm me.
I am telling you all of this now so that when these bad things happen to you (and they will!), you will remember that I warned you that your lives would be like this.
The time of my return to my Father has come.
I know that my death will fill you with grief unimaginable and inexpressible. For that, I am so sorry. You’re going to have to trust me when I say that what is about to happen is for the best. I cannot explain to you tonight the reasons why; I can only assure you that it is for the best.
But know this: I will not leave you alone to face your pain alone. As soon as I return home to Heaven I will send to you the Holy Spirit who will be with you every hour of every day. He will never leave you.
He will be to you a constant companion, your counselor, helper, and advocate. He will pray for you, give you strength to endure the challenge, and walk right beside you every step of your journey.
Please don’t ever forget that you are never alone, even, and especially, when you feel all alone.
I have so much more to tell you, but you’re just not yet ready to hear it all. At least not yet.
But what you do need to know tonight is this: My time is growing short. In a little while, I will be put to death. You will feel like your world has come to an end. You are about to feel completely abandoned and all alone, as if I have left you forever.
My enemies will celebrate my death as though it is their victory and your defeat. But hear this: My death is their defeat and your victory. Your victory because you will see me again. My death will not last forever. And neither will yours.
Night may be closing in on you, but the brightest mornings always follow the darkest nights.
Your sorrow will turn into joy. Your nightmare will turn in to your dream come true.
But not yet.
You first will have to endure the darkness of this difficult night, this very stormy season.
You are like a beloved mother-to-be who suffers the temporary pains of a difficult labor. But when her child is born, her anguish gives way to pure joy. So great is her joy that it completely obliterates even the memory of her momentary pain.
And so I promise you that just like that mom, your present pain will give way to unspeakable joy, a joy that no one can or will ever take away from you.
When that day comes, all your questions will be answered. All your confusion will be resolved. All your doubts will be erased, when that day comes.
But for now know this. God the Father loves you. He loves you with a love that will last forever. A love that you embraced when you embraced me.
From now on, you will pray in my name. That is, you will pray remembering who I Am, and remembering what I taught.
When you pray in my name — remembering who I Am, and remembering what I taught — God will hear everything you say, even when it doesn’t feel like He does. Even when it is hard to believe that He does. Your prayers in my name will never fall of deaf ears.
OK, so the bottom line is this: In this troubled world of ours, you are going to suffer. You are going to suffer greatly. That is a universal fact of life. And ironically, being my followers may result in you suffering even more.
This world can be a cruel place. Believe me, I know. But you can be sure of this: I have overcome this world. And so shall you.
So while I will not solve all of your problems or take all of your pain away, I offer you tonight something so much better. I offer to be with you in your problems, to be with you in your pain. I will carry them with you. We will carry your problems and pain together.
In short, I offer to you my peace. My peace. That most beautiful of all human experiences. True, genuine, lasting peace. This is why I now ask you to pray in my name, so that you will never forget who I Am and what I taught. And by remembering who I Am and what I taught, your soul will be flooded with my peace.
My peace will sustain you. My peace that will comfort you. My peace that will assure you that everything that seems out of control is well within my control. My peace that will carry you all the way to a glorious and victorious end.
The same promises Jesus made to them, He makes to us. Both His promises of pain, and of His peace.