“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

                                     JOHN 16:33 NLT

 

Lately I have been finding it hard to slow down and enjoy life. I am always going somewhere, trying to be up before sunrise, going to bed past midnight, texting my friends, checking my email, and doing homework. It almost seems like slowing down is a luxury that I cannot afford. What if I miss out on all the fun my friends are having? And what about more serving opportunities at church? Will my friend whom I haven’t seen in weeks be mad at me? What about finding a job for my future?

I am not the only one spending their days attempting to catch up with life. We are raised in a culture that worships busyness and praises planning. Notice, for instance, the questions posed to students: “What do you want to do when you grow up?” “Is what you’re studying going to help you make a living?” “What are your post-graduation plans?” Our brains have been hardwired to think that taking on more responsibilities and always being in a hurry is worthy of praise.

But how much of life are we choosing to miss out on when we adopt such a lifestyle? How much are we really in control of our lives when we attempt to control everything? Can we even control our future? Do we even notice the beauty that exists all around us?

If you’re like me, you have probably noticed your restlessness. Before you know it, your soul is so far from being well, and you are spiritually, mentally, and physically exhausted. Yet you are terrified of slowing down and even taking the tiniest break, for you are terrified of compromising your future, career, and relationships.

Please allow me to present a mind-bogging argument: your future has been taken care of! Um, what? Yes, your future is secure and has been taken care of. By whom? By Jesus, who by the way loves you enough to love you simply for who you truly are and loves you way too much to leave you alone in your brokenness and anxiety. Let me explain.

Before Jesus died (and later rose again and ascended to Heaven – talk about a majestic exit!), He left His twelve disciples with this: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” So the disciples were left alone with a task of spreading the gospel of Jesus to the ends of the Earth, with Jesus no longer physically pampering and guiding them. Think of how scary that sounds! Were they anxious? Probably. Confused? Most likely. Scared? They must have been!

But pay attention to Jesus’ words. He said, “you will have many trials and sorrows.” Remember that God is not constrained by time – He knows our past, present, and future. And our God is an intricately empathetic God: He knows our feelings and worries, and His heart breaks when our hearts break. So He knows the kinds of trials and challenges we will face – all of them! But He also said, “I have overcome the world.” It is done! Your trials and sorrows and pain have been taken care of! He has found the solution to every single problem you are going to be presented with!

OK, let us now talk about how we can respond to this. Am I invalidating your frustration, stress, and sadness? Please understand that I am most definitely not! You should react and respond to the challenges you face. Be human. Be emotional. Respect your emotions and share them with the people you love and the people who love you enough to cry with you. But beyond all those emotions, you have a choice:

Will you choose to be in constant anxiety and worry about your future, career and relationships?

OR

Will you take comfort in believing that your ever-present, ever-powerful God has taken care of literally every one of those areas and many more in your life?

If you choose the latter, literally all you need to do now is trust and follow. David writes in Psalms: “Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3 NLT). Simply give thanks to Jesus and trust that He loves you.

Now, am I saying that we should stop working altogether? Once again, please understand that I am not. God has given us work and responsibilities in life, and as His followers, it only makes sense to be grateful for them and do our best in what He asks us to do.

So slow down. Enjoy life. Take comfort in having challenges and trials, for through them God will demonstrate His might and His love for you. Take a rest, physically and spiritually. Spend time with the people you love. And breathe. Jesus loves you and has given you a secure future with Him.

 

Love you!
S.