Reality check! Believing in the Lord Jesus does not inoculate one from the trials and tribulations of life. There are those who suggest that if you just have enough faith, if you pray more confidently, if you will just ‘claim the promises’ you can have complete victory over every evil intent and your life will be trouble free. It’s often known as the ‘name it and claim it’ theology.
While it is true that some Scriptures can be read that way, we see in John 17: 6-19 that Jesus was fully aware of the trouble that lay ahead for the disciples. John 17 is described as Jesus’ high priestly prayer. Is this the first ‘prayers of the people’ for the new movement? In the prayer Jesus expresses to the Father his deep concern for those he has prepared for the mission of the movement following his departure.
As we read the prayer we see that followers of Jesus are not spared trouble in life, but that they, in fact, can expect trouble. “The world will hate them”, says Jesus. The disciples certainly experienced trials and tribulations and suffered for their faith. So, perhaps it could be said, if you want a trouble free life DO NOT become a follower of Jesus. After all, look what happened to him!
This in no way suggests resignation to the circumstances as ‘our lot’. Jesus’ prayer reassures us of the place of prayer and the need for prayer. Indeed, the trails and tribulations we face drive us to pray.
There certainly are many promises in Scripture, assuring us of fullness of life in Christ, but the promises are not to be found apart from conflict and struggle, but in the midst of them.
Leo Newell (May 2018)