Raise your hand if life has gone swimmingly for you, maybe even exactly the way you envisioned it when you were younger.
Seeing no hands raised, I shall proceed.
There’s no way around it: life is hard. Really hard. It is not lost on me that I write those words as one who has enjoyed all of the first-world benefits that the vast majority of the rest of the world cannot begin to fathom. I have been blessed beyond measure and yet the truth remains: life is hard.
We should not be surprised by this. Jesus warned his followers that living in a fallen world would be a struggle: “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). If you look around, it doesn’t take long to realize that Jesus was on to something. Homelessness, terminal diseases, political strife, unemployment, relational tensions–the list of “tribulations” could go on and on. And keep in mind, Jesus is talking to his followers! Brothers and sisters, we are not immune to the trials and tribulations, the struggles and sufferings, of this present world.
But the certainty of tribulation is trumped by the peace, presence, and power of the Holy Spirit. In John 16, Jesus goes so far as to say that it is actually to his disciples’ advantage that he goes away, because it is only in his absence that we experience the presence of the Helper–the Holy Spirit (John 16:7).
No, we will not escape the challenges of living in a fallen world–but we also do not strive and struggle alone. We have been promised the presence of the Holy Spirit. And that is enough.