In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (John 16:33 NKJV)
Tribulation means great trouble. Jesus doesn’t sugar coat what living in a ruined world will be like. There will be difficulties, heartbreak, tragedy and sometimes unbearable suffering. In fact, we will eventually lose almost every temporal blessing we enjoy.
Jesus originally gave these words to prepare his disciples for his arrest and brutal crucifixion, and the terror they would experience at that loss. But his words are also universally applicable to everyone who believes in him. They are to provide comfort and encouragement to you and me as well.
Amazingly, he tells us to be of good cheer in spite of it all. We can still be happy and rise above the sometimes crushing circumstances and heartbreaking losses. He doesn’t offer merely well-meaning advice; he gives us the wisdom from heaven we need to solve the problem along with the grace and power to put it into practice.
How is that even possible? Jesus has overcome the world. He has conquered evil and eternally defeated Satan, the god of this fallen world (2 Corinthians 4:4) God’s kingdom will one day replace the present kingdom of darkness, and in the here and now you can enjoy the peace and joy that comes from knowing Christ (Romans 14:17).
The original West Side Story ranks as the greatest musical film production of all time, and Steven Spielberg’s 2021 version updates the classic production for new generations. Derived from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and created by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Jerome Robbins, the original film captured ten academy awards including Best Picture in 1961.
But what makes it so compelling? The plot conflict is universal, deep and timely: love and sin. It is universal because as human beings we are made to love and be loved. But as fallen human beings, there is a power that often keeps us from loving and being loved: sin. In this case the sinful obstacle that plagues us to this day: racism. The mutual hatred born of sinful pride divides the Puerto Rican and white gangs.
Yet, as they sing Somewhere together, Tony and Maria long for a better way:
Somewhere a place for us.
Peace and quiet and open air wait for us.
Someday there’ll be a time for us:
Time together with time to spare,
Time to learn, time to care.
We’ll find a new way of living,
Will find a way of forgiving.
A time and a place for us.
Hold my hand and we’re halfway there,
Hold my hand and I’ll take you there.
This longing is in every one of us. It is a longing for a better way, not the way of this world, not the way of the first Adam, who fell from his created perfection into corruption. It is the way of the Second Adam, the way of love, the way of forgiveness, the way of God:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9)