There’s a lot of hurt and heartache and scary stuff going on right now, all over the world. Some of it hitting distant places, reaching our eyes and ears only by way of media. Some of it hitting right in our own back yards, maybe even right in our own homes.
Our heart breaks and just when we begin to pick up the pieces, some other hard, scary, messy thing hits and shakes our world and shatters us all over again. We are living broken in a broken world.
And I’m not just talking about the stuff that’s making the headlines and getting the social media shares - the tragedies of hurricanes and wildfires and hatred toward fellow man.
I’m also talking about the secret struggles; the things that are weighing heavy on your heart and causing tears to spill from your eyes that only a few people know about, or maybe nobody knows about. The emotional pain and battles with illness and relationship strains and grieving of loss and fears that grip.
Yes, there’s a lot of hurt and heartache and scary stuff going on right now.
We hear calls for peace and unity. We ask, Why? Why is this happening? We wonder if it will get better, if it can get better. The sheer enormity of all the horrible stuff going on can be overwhelming, the weight too heavy to carry, our hearts almost crushed beyond hope.
As the world shakes and our hearts shatter, how do we stand?
In John 16:33, Jesus says to His disciples, “In this world, you will have trouble.”
Jesus certainly doesn’t sugar coat things. He tells it as it is. In this world, we will have trouble. Earlier in chapter 16, Jesus says we will weep and mourn and grieve.
The word “trouble” in this verse comes from the Greek word thlipsis. It primarily means “a pressing, pressure, anything which burdens the spirit.”
And we know there is much that burdens the spirit. That weighs heavy and weighs down and presses in with crushing force. And no matter how hard we try, we can’t lift the weight and cast it off. We can’t shake the pressure that’s shaking our world.
Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble.” But He goes on to say, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
This world is a broken place full of broken people. Yes, there is beauty here. Yes, there are those living good lives and doing good things. But sin lurks and stalks and devours. And our only hope is Jesus. This world’s only hope is Jesus.
We can call on people to love and be united. We can call for an end to war and racism. We can call for help and relief for those who are victims of disaster. But in the end, our only hope is Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, we should stand up for truth and justice. We should seek to help others. We should love, love, love.
But it all should be to point back to Jesus.
Because He’s the only one who can cleanse the heart of sin and transform it. And until the heart is cleansed and transformed, sin will continue to run rampant and wreak havoc in it.
That’s what this hurting, heartbroken world needs. The cleansing, transforming work of Jesus, one heart at a time.
Jesus calls His followers to take heart. To take heart means to be encouraged and comforted, to be courageous and confident, to hold onto hope and not give up.
We can take heart because Jesus has overcome. He has overcome all the sin and burdens of this world. And in Him, we can overcome as well.
Even when the world shakes, Jesus is still Sovereign over all.
Even in our heartbreaking, we can take heart in knowing Jesus is our Hope and Help and Healer.
Jesus is our Hope
In John 16:20, Jesus promises that our weeping, mourning, and grief will turn to joy. Hardship and heartbreak is not the end for us. We are promised an end to our suffering and sorrow. Our destiny is in Jesus, and it is a destiny of joy.
Jesus is our Help
Jesus says in John 14:16, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.” Through His Holy Spirit, Jesus comes to us and lives in us, our Helper. The Holy Spirit is also called our Comforter and our Counselor. We don’t have to carry the heavy burdens of this world. We are not alone when facing the troubles of this world.
Jesus is our Healer
Jesus heals all wounds. When our hearts shatter, we can place the broken pieces in His gentle hands. In Him, the broken is made whole.
How do we stand when the world shakes and our hearts shatter? We stand by kneeling at the feet of Jesus, calling on Him to help and heal, placing our hope in Him and Him alone.
Sometimes, I find myself standing at the bottom of a mountain, one that either needs to be climbed or moved.
But as I look up the height of the mountain, to the barely visible snow-capped peaks, as I take in its massive heaviness, it seems impossible. I can’t climb it, I can’t move it.
My faith just seems so small for me to step out in faith. Could I really live the impossible? Can I actually do all things through Christ? My faith seems too small for that. My fear seems too big.
Like the father of the boy who was possessed by an evil spirit, I cry out, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) Like the disciples, I pray, “Increase my faith!” (Luke 17:5)
Maybe you’re crying and praying as well. Maybe you feel like you don’t have enough faith, and that mountain seems unconquerably big.
Maybe you’ve read the quote: Let your faith be bigger than your fear.
I would like some big faith. Some big faith that snuffs out that fear. Some big faith that causes me to live big and do big things for God.
I read about those people of faith, even interact with some in my own everyday life. The ones who are crossing oceans and taking pay cuts and opening their homes to kids who need care and giving not just money, but also time and energy, and standing up for truth and even facing persecution and death, all in faith-filled obedience to God.
Where did they get it? This fear-crushing, radically obedient faith?
We are called to be women of faith. We are called to live by faith.
In the last post, we talked about faith, and looked at some verses from Hebrews 11 and discovered 4 characteristics of a woman of faith. In this post, we’re going to continue talking about faith from Hebrews 11.
Most of Hebrews 11 talks about the heroes of faith, and describes the actions they took by faith. Noah building the ark. Abraham leaving his homeland and having a son even though he was old and his wife was barren. Moses leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. The Israelites passing through the Red Sea on day land. Rahab hiding the spies. The walls of Jericho falling after the Israelites marched around them for seven days. And many more are mentioned for their faith in God: Joseph, Gideon, Samson, David, the prophets.
My middle name is Faith. Jessica Faith Hagen. That’s me.
And you know, I think my middle name is my favorite part of my name. I’ve answered the ice-breaker question, If you were to change your name, what would you change it to? with different first names over the years. When I get married, I’ll be all for changing my last name. But I always say my middle I’d never change.
Because a woman of faith is who I want to be. I want that to be my true name; my identity. I want to be known not for accomplishments or successes, but for my faith in Jesus lived out in love and joy.