Devotions

When Everything Overwhelms, How Do We Overcome?

October 21, 2020
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
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“Hey, that’s where great-grandpa and grandma live!” My kids excitedly point to the senior housing community as we drive by, and instead of correcting them, I nod in agreement and choke back tears. My husband’s grandfather passed away a couple of months ago, but it still feels as though he’d be standing at the door, eager to welcome us in if we were to visit.

Death is such a strange thing. It is at once final and yet … not. And grief after death lingers with no end.

I’m surprised by my sadness, and I chide myself for not being over it yet. After all, do I have a right to be so sad when I had only known him for the last 10 years of his 90 years of life? Should I still be crying when I was just his granddaughter-in-law? I wrestle with these questions, but in a moment of grace toward myself, I push away the critic’s voice in my head and let the tears run down my cheeks.

These days, loss is compounded by more loss. I attend a funeral and watch a mother weep as she buries her daughter. I notice the weariness in people’s eyes — in my own eyes — as we try to figure out how to make it through another day. I hear the fear and anxiety that uncertainty brews. I lament in anger for Black mothers and fathers and children who are not safe sleeping in their beds, going for a run, making mistakes and being human.

Each death, each act of violence, each oppressed silencing and each loss feels like waves crashing over me, and I am overwhelmed. I don’t know if I can swim to the surface to catch a breath or find a way to the shore. I long for solid ground, to lie still and rest, and I cry out to God — How much longer, Lord?

My strength is made weak by the constant barrage of what this year keeps throwing at us, and in my helplessness, I remember Jesus’ words to His disciples in John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I repeat the verse over and over, and in His words, I hear truth and hope. The truth is that we will have trouble in this world. We will face abandonment, loneliness, hatred and death. Out of love and kindness, Jesus wants us to be aware rather than surprised when these things happen; they are to be expected.

Then, He gives this two-fold promise of hope: First, when everything is chaos, we can have peace in Him. Second, we can be encouraged because Christ has already overcome the world.

We can get through hard things because we follow a God who has gone through every hard thing and has come out of it victoriously. When we are weary and we feel like we can’t take another hit, we can be encouraged. We can overcome. Christ has gone before us, and in Him, our weaknesses are the platforms from which His power shines.

Take heart, friend. We have a God who understands, who has endured and who helps us to do the same.

God, thank You for the hope we can have when everything feels like too much. Your promises are more than silver linings; they are anchors of assurance. Thank You for being with us, entering into our pain and empowering us to persevere. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY

2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (NLT)

Hebrews 4:15-16, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES

If life hasn’t turned out the way you planned, you’re not alone. Cancer comes. Loved ones die. Spouses leave. Dreams slip through our fingers. Anxiety and depression steal precious seasons.

But what if you knew you weren’t alone in your pain? That in the midst of sorrow, God was there?

In Take Heart: 100 Devotions to Seeing God When Life’s Not Okay, the (in)courage community comes alongside you when your heart is grieving, your faith is shaking, or it’s just one of those mundane hard days. You won’t find tidy bows or trite quick fixes, just arrows pointing you straight to Jesus.

Let this book be like a trusted friend, wrapping your heart with comfort and assurance that you are seen. Together, we can find ourselves and God again in one another’s stories. Together, we can take heart! Find out more here.

CONNECT

(in)courage welcomes you to a place where authentic, brave women connect deeply with God and others. Founded in 2009 by DaySpring, the Christian products subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, Inc., (in)courage is a vibrant online community that reaches thousands of women every day. Through the power of shared stories and meaningful resources, (in)courage celebrates the strength Jesus gives to live out our calling as God's daughters. Together we build community, celebrate diversity and become women of courage. Join us at incourage.me.

Enter to WIN your very own copy of Take Heart edited by Grace P. Cho and Anna Rendell. To celebrate this book, the publisher will give away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and then notify each one in the comments section by Monday, October 26, 2020.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND

How does the promise of Christ overcoming the world give you hope for the pain, loss or suffering you’re going through today?


Grace P. Cho is a writer, speaker and the (in)courage Editorial Manager. In the middle of her years in church ministry, she sensed God moving her toward writing, to use her words to lead others in a broader context. She coaches writers, mentors leaders and believes that telling our stories can change the world. Find her on Instagram here.

 

© 2020 by Grace P. Cho. All rights reserved.

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