Overcome to be Thankful
It is November! Maybe you are still knee deep in collected, colorful, wrapped, hardened sugar and chocolate. Maybe the carved rind of the large orange pumpkin is still holding up. Maybe the outfit that won first prize for best non-traditional superhero still hangs proudly in your closet. Maybe crazy, half-used makeup containers still litter your bathroom vanity counter, but November turns our eyes to Thanksgiving…and turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, melted marshmallow covered yams and more. The name of the holiday implies that you have things for which you give thanks.
Do you? Or, as you think about that, are you reminded of the daily battles you face? Do you struggle? Are there days you feel under siege on all sides. Family problems? Health issues? Haunting mistakes from the past you regret but cannot change? Do you feel you have much more trouble than opportunities for thanksgiving?
Jesus once said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Is that a simplistic and ignorant claim from Jesus? How could he possibly hope to cover all the potential issues that could come up in your life, in mine, in the lives of the whole wide world?! How can people you trust a promise that was made 2,000 years ago?
Jesus didn’t talk about overcoming the world by healing diseases or mending broken relationships, although there were times he did just that. He spoke of something far more important than health issues, relationship problems, or regrets from the past. Jesus promised to break and overcome the cause of all suffering and all trouble in this world. Jesus spoke of his victory over sin. Sin is the root cause behind all pain and heartache. Sin is to fall short of living well and good. It is when we fail morally, ethically, or in any way. It is to put ourselves first when we know deep down someone else should occupy that spot. Sin totally sets you against the God who gives all good things. Sin robs you of life, joy, and true thankfulness. Jesus overcame sin. He overturned its dramatic consequences. He overcame every trouble of this world that we will face. He overcame when he died to it on the cross and then rose in triumph over the very cause of his death.
Now you can overcome the world too – by putting ourselves aside and placing our trust and reliance in Jesus. He leads us through the hardest of times and finally will take us home to his world—the kingdom of heaven he has prepared for all who believe in him. When you know that Jesus overcame, you can be thankful. You can be thankful even if and when you face trouble because you can look beyond the trouble and see Jesus who has overcome.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33