Misery or Joy?
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
In my addiction, if I wanted to change, I needed to accept the reality that I had an ongoing life problem. I also had to understand that both the misery of addiction and the joy of recovery were available options. As long as I did nothing purposeful to change, I naturally remained in my state of addiction. If I wanted recovery, I needed to live purposefully in it. This was not a once-for-all belief only in my mind. To experience authentic recovery, I needed to actually live in such a manner that embraced that life – every day. I didn’t have to live perfectly, but I couldn’t enjoy a little recovery and then go back and indulge in a little drug use. If I wanted freedom, joy, and peace, I daily had to choose to live it.
This is a microcosm of the Christian life. In today’s passage, as he was preparing to depart from them, Jesus told his followers they would know trials and tribulations. He didn’t pretend they wouldn’t. He didn’t promise that he would eliminate all their life problems. Pain and struggles were a part of life and his followers needed to accept that reality. However, Jesus also promised a larger reality which his disciples also needed to grasp. Jesus promised that he was greater than any life problem. I have overcome the world. In him, despite life’s trials, they could know joy and peace.
Like the two realities of my addiction and recovery, the Christian can also know two realities. We have this physical, tangible world, and, we have our spiritual reality in Christ. Just like my life reflects whether I daily choose to dwell in my addiction or my recovery, the Christian’s experience is largely derivative of where and how he or she chooses to live, embracing the world, or embracing Christ.
We all want the peace and joy Jesus offers. Few of us though, want to do what it takes to live in it. We all want to be slim, muscular, and fit. Few of us though (me included), are willing to do what it takes to get there. If we want to know the authentic life and joy of living in Christ, then we must daily do whatever it takes to live like it. Joy is a conscious, daily choice that doesn’t depend on our worldly circumstances, but rather, on our attachment to Christ.