by Michael J. Klassen
Over the last 6 weeks, the Klassen household has been dogpaddling in chaos. We’re in the middle of a house remodel in three stages. As I write, I’m sitting on my couch in our living room, facing bookshelves from my office and, leaning against it, a mattress from one of our bedrooms. Lining the fireplace is a pile of miscellaneous books and papers from my home office, which I affectionately consider my sanctuary, safe haven, and man cave, all in one. I miss it.
The summer weather finally arrived here in Colorado, albeit three weeks late, so the windows are open. But alas, two homes directly across the street are in various stages of construction, so the din of bulldozers and smell of exhaust do whatever they can to offend my senses.
And did I mention the new Golden Retriever puppy we just adopted, coinciding with the remodel? Bella is four months old and full of unrelenting energy, chewing, mischief, and distraction.
By day I try to work efficiently and by night Kelley and I wile away our extra time painting walls, ripping out carpet, or moving furniture from one temporary location to another.
Not to mention the four women in our house—two of whom are 14 year olds. If we’re dogpaddling in chaos, then I’m drowning in a sea of estrogen. Broadway should commission a screenplay based on the four Klassen women because drama is definitely on stage.
Sometimes I think I’m on the verge of losing my mind.
Every day Kelley and I remind ourselves, “When the remodel is finished, it’ll be worth it.” But in the meantime, we’re just trying to hold it together.
Without a doubt, you’ve faced overwhelming situations. They might not involve home remodels and 14-year-old drama queens, but they could be just as stressful or even worse:
A difficult boss at work
A troubled marriage
Deep sadness or depression
And, if you’re like me, you want to scream…or at least take a long vacation.
The Good News (Or Is It Bad News?) About Stress
Jesus was about to walk the long, lonely road to the cross. In his final moments with his disciples, they broke bread, he washed their feet, and then left his final words. With just a few moments remaining, Jesus began speaking very directly to his closest friends. No more figurative speech, they needed straight talk.
Then he explained, “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone” (John 16:32)
Jesus reassured them that he would be okay because his Father was with them, but then he gave them a strange promise:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33).
Did you catch that?
Jesus promised that they would have trouble. The Greek word for “trouble” means “suffering” or “persecution.” Chaos, stress, grief, misunderstanding, unemployment–none would be averted by even his closest friends.
Stress Is Part Of The Job Description
In the movie Private Benjamin, Judy Benjamin is a young, distraught high society widow. In her grief she happens upon an army recruiter who promises a career of fun, adventure, and exotic travel. Benjamin, played by Goldie Hawn, enthusiastically enlists. But after finding herself immersed in the stress of boot camp, she confronts her commanding officer.
“I think they sent me to the wrong place,” Private Benjamin confides. “See, I did join the army, but I joined a ‘different’ army. I joined the one with the condos and the private rooms.”
When we’re drowning in a sea of sorrow or stress or conflict, how often do we tell God, “Excuse me! I think I landed in the wrong faith. See, I became a follower of Christ, but I followed a ‘different’ Christ. I followed a Christ who guarantees good health, provision, and stress-free living. I didn’t sign up for this!”
Yet Jesus issued us a promise: As long as we’re living in this world, we’re going to experience suffering, pain, sickness, sorrow, sadness, hardship, poverty.
You Can’t Overcome The Stress On Your Own
The good news is, Jesus doesn’t abandon us in our trouble. He concluded his remarks with these important words:
“But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
He didn’t say, “You can do it! You can overcome the world. Just take the bull by the horns, believe in yourself, and will your way through it.”
Jesus said, “I have overcome the world.”
It’s interesting that he spoke in past tense—“have overcome,” not “will overcome”—because the cross still stood before him.
You can’t will your way through trouble. You can’t overcome. But Jesus can and he has.
So where does that leave us?
Jesus offers us the invitation to draw close to him, to abide in him. In this same conversation with his disciples, he called them to abide, remain, in him.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Apart from him, we can do nothing.
Trouble may be unavoidable, but as we press in to Christ, as we immerse ourselves in knowing him and communing with him, we can experience true peace.
Regardless of the chaos that may be reigning in your house.
Michael serves as co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.