As a lifelong Cleveland Browns football fan, I grew up knowing my share of disappointment. Despite being one of only four teams to have never appeared in a Super Bowl championship game, the Browns have a loyal fan base that sticks with the team year in and year out. But because the fans usually end up disappointed, many of them now refer to the home stadium as the “Factory of Sadness.”
The broken world we live in can be a “factory of sadness” too. There seems to be an endless supply of heartache and disappointment, whether from our own choices or things beyond our control.
Yet the follower of Christ has hope—not only in the life to come but for this very day. Jesus said, “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). Notice that without minimizing the struggles or sadness we may experience, Christ counters them with His promises of peace, joy, and ultimate victory.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul. Horatio G. Spafford
Our hope and peace are found in Jesus.
In today’s passage, Jesus’s words span a wide timeframe—past, present, and future. To reassure His disciples of His source of authority and the truth of His mission, Jesus says in verse 28 that He “came from the Father” (past tense) and is now “going back to the Father” (present tense). Then in verse 33, Jesus cautions them that they “will have trouble” (future tense). But then He refers to the future with such certainty that He uses the past tense—“I have overcome the world.” Despite having yet to be arrested, tried, crucified, resurrected, and ascended back to the Father, Jesus gives His disciples a concrete source of hope—He has overcome the world.