How to Find God's Peace in Life's Darkest Moments
- John Dickerson
- 2016 15 Jan
The moment we trust in Christ to rescue us from sin, we are “already” adopted into God’s family. But we are “not yet” home in heaven, where there will be no more pain or weakness. We are “already” purified from the fallout of sin internally in our souls, but we are “not yet” out of these broken bodies that feel pain, have broken emotions, and will eventually die in Rocky Flats.
The day is coming (after our time on earth) when from heaven we will see fully the rescue we “already” have. Until then, we journey through this contaminated world, growing every day. Just like Jack’s physical growth, our rescue is “already/not yet.” We are “already” purified internally, but we are “not yet” at home in heaven. We are new creations in an old world.
What does this mean for you and your weaknesses? It means the day is coming when God will “wipe every tear” from your eye (Revelation 21:4). The day is coming when Joy Veron (the paralyzed mother from chapter 1) will not need a wheelchair. The day is coming when I will not have to worry about a hemiplegic episode turning into a stroke—because I won’t have any hemiplegic episodes at all. The day is coming when all who trust Christ’s rescue will be entirely free from pain, sickness, and weakness.
But when we look around us, it’s clear that day is “not yet” fully here. Even the strongest and most spiritual people still battle through weakness, doubt, prisons, sickness, death, and depression in this world—just as Paul the apostle did. God acknowledges this tension—that Christ has “already” defeated death, but has “not yet” kicked all evil out of planet Earth. After declaring that all things are under Christ’s control, Scripture adds, “Yet at present we do not see everything subject” to Christ.
And so we might wonder, Does trusting Christ’s rescue make any difference for my difficulties right here and now? The answer is a resounding yes. Trusting Christ makes a life-changing difference for your journey through this contaminated world.
Just as much as Christ promises our eternal rescue, He also promises to sustain us on earth while we await that rescue. Writer Paul David Tripp put it like this: “The promise of future grace always carries with it the promise of present grace.”
Remember the trapped Chilean miners? The rescue operation had two halves: (1) to rescue them out of the collapsed mineshaft and (2) to sustain them with food, water, and medical supplies until they got pulled up to the surface.
God’s plan for us works the same way. The good news of Christ is not only that He is delivering us out of our prisons in this world (eternal life in heaven), but also that He will sustain and strengthen us while we live down here (abundant life).
When your suffering discourages you, your soul is groaning for heaven. When you feel internally unsettled by the evils, injustices, and tragedies of this world, your inner being is homesick, longing to be where you belong—a place free from suffering and heartbreak.
God promises us this pain-free future, far better than any good we can imagine: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth . . . He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
The “old order of things” that will pass away is the contamination of Rocky Flats. Until then, Christ promises to sustain and strengthen you on your journey to heaven. Every weakness reminds you that you are “not yet” home. And every weakness also provides an opportunity to discover that in Christ you “already” have the power of heaven available to sustain you in the darkness of earth.
God promises to give you the strength you need to live for Him as you await heaven: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life.”
Just as much as Christ will rescue you out of this world into heaven, He will also sustain and strengthen you with heaven’s power in this world.
God over Life’s Storms
No power on earth or in hell can conquer the Spirit of God living within the human spirit; it creates an inner invincibility.
I saw some great thunderstorms growing up in Michigan, but Arizona’s monsoons have a unique magnificence all their own. When I first moved to Arizona, I would drive out into a valley during monsoon thunderstorms. I would watch the blinding bursts of lightning stabbing at the bowl of mountains encircling me. It was all storm, in every direction. (Disclaimer: I do not recommend this.)
In life, we sometimes find ourselves surrounded by storms. As a pastor, I’ve walked with friends through some of the most frightening storms imaginable. Unexpected death. Life-changing accidents. Cancer. Infidelity. Heart-crushing relapses into addiction. Natural disasters. Slander and media misrepresentation.
I wonder what storms you’ve found yourself in recently?
- the storm of death
- the storm of inadequacy
- the storm of illness
- the storm of rejection
- the storm of addiction
- the storm of anxiety
- the storm of fatigue
- the storm of decisions
- the storm of opposition and persecution
- the storm of aging
- the storm of loneliness
This Rocky Flats world swarms with frightening storms. When we are in them, it can seem like these storms will never end. It can seem like God has forgotten us and has forgotten about the rescue plan.
God wants you to know He has not forgotten you. He has not abandoned you in your storm. He has “already” begun the process of rescuing you out of your storms, even when it does not feel like it.
John S. Dickerson is the bestselling author of The Great Evangelical Recession. His work has appeared in The New York Times and USA Today, among numerous other publications. He is a nationally awarded journalist, a recognized voice in American Christianity, and Teaching Pastor in Residence at Venture Christian Church in Los Gatos, California.
Publication date: January 15, 2016