Have you ever recalled a dream so vividly that it was like you were remembering an actual event? Every now and then I will have a dream that will stick in my mind and I write it down. One such dream was over 3 years ago. The gist of it was that my husband, kids, and myself, went through an overwhelming struggle but had come to a resting place after defeating a creature. Then we had come to a brief pause, and a place of calm and quiet. It was there, in the dream, I foresaw something worse. It was a foreshadowing of a fierce rhino with red eyes. I knew (as one often does in dreams) that it was coming, along our journey, we were going to deal with a difficult struggle, something absurd, something we would have to battle, and it was terrifying. I wrote down the dream, pondered it for days, but then closed my journal and didn’t think of it again until I reread it recently on a bored whim, and was astonished.
I looked at the date of the dream and thought of the months that had followed. I can say, it was the hardest months of trial that came in unexpected. Pain, emotional loss, troubles, and grieving; then recovering, that is what happened over the months and even years that came. So, what was that dream? Was is a vision, a foretelling, a warning of reality? I couldn’t say, and if so, I didn’t pay much attention at the time. Perhaps it was divine warning of the trial ahead, I don’t know.
Here is the shocker though, we are all foretold of pains, trials, and suffering in this life.
In John 16:33 Jesus said to His disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (NKJV)
The trouble is coming, it is not going to skirt around us. It says you have trouble, and you will. For myself, the hardship we endured was enough that I thought I would break. It has been through that immense trial that I see the purification by the Holy Spirit. It has caused me to grow, to have a refined heart and mind that has deepened my faith, strengthened my steps, and richened my joy.
Suffering is a reoccurring theme in the Bible and in life. Trials, trouble, suffering, pain, hard times, whatever title you give it, it is going to effect every life. Some may not have it “as hard” as others, but count on it, if you haven’t had those times, you will.
When dealing with a difficult move after what had been a harsh winter, Elizabeth Prentiss wrote the following in a letter to a friend:
“We want to know no will but God’s in this question…the experience of the past winter would impress upon me the fact that place and position have next to nothing to do with happiness; that we can be wretched in a palace, radiant in a dungeon…perhaps this heartbreaking is exactly what we need to remind us…that we are pilgrims and strangers on the earth.”1
So, whether we can foresee trouble coming or not; we can know that no life is exempt from it. What do we do then? Buy padded rooms, good locks, and shut ourselves off from the world, is that a solution? I think the better response would be to take Mrs. Prentiss’ words to heart. And to remember the words of Jesus to His followers. In the passage in John, Jesus says to “be of good cheer,” which also is translated, “to be of good courage.” Why should we be courageous or cheerful in tribulation and trial? – Because Christ has overcome. Jesus had just been telling the disciples that He would go to prepare a home for them, He would send a helper, and one day, they would be with Him again. This world is not the permanent destination for those who are called, chosen, and believe in Jesus Christ. We do have a home elsewhere, and the sufferings of this world ought to serve as a reminder that we are not bound to this earth, we are strangers in this place.
2 Corinthians 5:1-2, 6 “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven…Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.”
In this world, we will face things that are hard, it may look different from one person to the next, but we all face it. Be compassionate to others who may not be facing a trial like yours, they may have their own trouble coming. Also, be prepared, take heart and be of good cheer, because our Lord and Savior has already been victorious in this world, He has won.