It seems in our culture today, all we really want is to be happy. Unfortunately, “The evidence suggests that we’re bad at predicting what will make us happy.” (The Many, Many Problems With “Follow Your Passion” – a worthwhile read).
So why would it surprise us, that the path to the abundant and joyful life Jesus calls us to, may take us through circumstances we don’t want to experience?
In the passage above, Jesus calls Peter to follow him and explicitly tells him to expect trouble and sorrow (see also, John 16:33). In essence, he tells Peter, “Don’t expect everything to go your way. It’s not. In fact, you’ll find yourself going where you don’t want to go, in situations where you’d rather not be.”
Why then, do we have the mindset that our circumstances will be full of sunshine and roses, comfort and happiness? At the same time, God doesn’t call us to a life of misery. In the midst of the trials and sorrow there is indescribable joy (see Nehemiah 8:9-12 for a great picture of this).
Of course, if we’re consumed with ourselves, what we think we want, we’ll never experience that joy. But when we live for something greater than ourselves, when we take advantage of the opportunity to get to know God more, when we purposefully choose to follow Jesus, light and life flows in us and through us no matter what (and perhaps, even because of) our circumstances.
So take heart, when you’re in the midst of the trial. Keep following Jesus and know he will strengthen you with joy.