We are all going to come to the place where we run in to the huge pot holes of life that can swallow us up. Christianity can't always be reduced to a bumper sticker or a slogan. We don't know how to respond to everything that comes our way. We don't get a diagram that gives us the key to life. Some of us found out the hard way when we tried to live the Christian "newness of life" and we get knocked down. When life events continued as they did before we came to know Christ, it shook us and our faith.
In John 16, Christ was about to be crucified and about to bear the sins of the world when He said these words. "Now I've told you these things... (He had said some amazing things like: "I am the vine and you are the branches. Unless you abide in me, you can do nothing" or "I chose you; you didn't choose me" or "As much as the Father loves me; that is the same way I love you". He said he was going away, but the good news was he was gong to send another Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who was going to live inside of them. He also told the disciples that they wouldn't see him anymore, but in a short while, they would see him again.) ....so that in Me you may have peace." "Have peace" means to take possession of peace; to have ownership of peace. Jesus didn't say we would have peace by being in church, have peace by having a bible at home or have peace by having certain beliefs. He said would would have peace by having a relationship with Him.
"In this world, you will have trouble." In our world, it will come in the future and in our present reality. Jesus was saying "Trouble is coming!!" Haven't we all had the darkness of trouble? Jesus says that we will have the big kind of trouble like trouble that rocks our faith and nearly snuffs us out. But He gives us the way to peace. He says there is a world that is crumbling, but there is also a powerful God. "Take heart because I have overcome the world." But how do you overcome the world? As He was standing saying this, He had not yet fulfilled his purpose by dying on cross, so how could He say that? It was because He had already arrived. He had fulfilled much because He was God on earth. Some people buy into the theology that troubles don't happen to true Christians. This is certainly not true Trouble will come and the question, at time of trouble, will be "Where will you turn?"
Recently, at a youth conference in Myrtle Beach, Louie told the audience that he didn't know where each of them were at the time, but he promised that the bottom would fall out at some point which would bring them back to the Hope of the gospel. "I was walking off the stage, and I literally hadn't even stepped off the stairs yet" when a security guard stopped him. He grabbed Louie and told him to go back onto the stage and to pray for a kid in the audience who had just received a phone call in the lobby (while Louie was talking) and learned that his mother had been shot in a drug deal. Before he knew it, Louie was praying with the kid in the lobby. Trouble will come.
Month's ago, Louie received an email from a kid named Jacob who had lost his sister in a car accident, which turned his life upside down. Out of the blue, Louie got this gritty thing about real trouble. Jacob was angry with God and couldn't see through his grief. He said his sister should be celebrating a birthday, not lying in a grave. He prayed that God would take away the internal bleeding of his sister when she was dying, but he felt ignored by God. What's the use in praying when God isn't interested in healing or restoring an individual for us? He had prayed over others and watched people heal, but when his sister needed healing, God was silent. So many people were praying that night, but God ignored their prayers.
It was a flat out reality. What could Louie say about that? "Take heart?" How could Louie himself say anything in an unexplainable event that causes unexplainable pain? This kind of pain in our lives The cross is the core of the Christian journey. It's not just a transaction Hebrews 6:19-20, it says "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf." We have this hope as an anchor during the shipwrecks of life. 1) It is at the cross that God shows us He loves us. We have to get this when we are thinking, "God must not love me if He let this happen to me." We have to get eyeball to eyeball with Jesus and understand that He was the love of God.
Our Heavenly Father loves us. 2) God allows freedom, but He maintains control. At the cross, "angry men" crucified Jesus. An authority gave the crowd the option of freeing Jesus or Barabus, a notorious criminal. But who did they choose? The Son of God. The guards came in punched the clock and crucified Christ. Was God in charge? Yes. Did the men make those choices? Yes. Yet, somehow, God gave freedom, but maintained control. He is never not in control of your life, but we are in a broken world where we make choices. 3) The third thing the cross tells us is that God can use the worst for His eternal purposes. This isn't something the disciples could see at the time when their Messiah was being beaten, ridiculed and crucified. It was a horrible experience, but when Christ reappeared and had been resurrected, it was all the more beautiful.
"I've told you enough bad news. Let me share you some good news." On January 22nd, Louie was on tour with Chris Tomlin in Phoenix outside of the Dodge Theater and he received an email from a young girl, Ashley, via wi fi which can now be found in its entirety at the link, http://268generation.com/blog/2008/04/the-day-unending-life-began/. Louie was so excited after reading the email. "She didn't even come to the conference and she was saved!" Louie called her up and asked if he could post her email on his site and blog. To him, it was a fantastic letter which drew many responses later on from his readers. A while later, Ashley wrote an email to "momma and everyone else", copying Louie and saying she had graduated even though it had been a "helluva year". She told how she had had some wonderful experiences, but that she was especially thankful for her roommate sharing the truth of Jesus and how it had changed her life. On May 4th, however, Louie received a message from her mother telling him that she had been in a car accident and died in the arms of her father. But her mother, even in her grief, said that she had watched her daughter's life change when she met the Savior. She missed her daughter, but knew Ashley had been listening to Louie's messages to learn more about her walk. The mother thanked Louie for all that he did because, at the funeral, many of her Christian friends showed up praising and rejoicing at a time that would normally be very sad.
Louie wept and, after composing himself, wrote the mother back a couple of days later. They communicated online about how wonderful it was that Ashley came to know Christ before her death and then they talked about Ashley and her new life. It wasn't long before the mother asked if she could give Louie's email address to Ashley's father, an atheist. She apologized ahead of time for anything her ex-husband might say to him. 4) The fourth thing the cross shows us is that God paints of a canvas. To us, it is a mosaic, because we can't see the significance of any one piece until we know the larger picture.
Not long afterwards, Louie received an email from Mike, Ashley's father. He had heard about Louie's conversations with him and how Ashley had been saved in January. Althought he was an atheist, he said that he could honestly say that he saw a huge difference in Ashley; "It was amazing." On the night he got the call, he was in Arizona and rushed to Florida via plane. But he was six hours too late and his daughter had died in the arms of her other father. It was like a knife in his soul. "I didn't know a person could feel that much pain all at once." Ashley's friends called and asked if they could plan the funeral. Two hundred kids showed up at the wake and music was playing and people were rejoicing that Ashley had come to know Christ. At one point, Ashley had asked her dad if he would go to a Christian concert with her, but he said no, Reflecting back on it, he said he now would give anything to have a chance to say yes. Her death had dramatically affected him. Louie wrote back and said he was glad Mike had gotten to know the power of the gospel through someone he loved. Not long afterwards, Mike wrote back with one sentence; "Would it be okay if I ask you some questions about your life and your faith?"
We might be left in these situations wondering why this is happening to us. But what we can realize about the cross is that Jesus knows our pain and that He went through it just like we are going through it. The cross doesn't get rid of the circumstance, but it does gives us the hope that everything that happens is part of a perfect plan for the good of those who love him. God will never let go of us no matter what comes our way. Big time trouble is coming and when it does, the hope comes from the cross.