“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”
Can I be real for a minute? In this season of life for my family and myself, circumstances are difficult. I constantly find myself praying for God to remove the challenging circumstances and it’s exhausting when I don’t get what I want. How can I be effective for God living like this?
Some of you face similar situations. Maybe you hate your job or have a difficult boss. Maybe you lost your job and are struggling to support your family. Maybe you received a report that has turned your world upside down. Maybe you’re going through relational problems with children, a spouse/significant other, or parents. Maybe you suffer from depression or anxiety. Whatever circumstance you are facing, do you find yourself praying for God to remove it? Don’t you just want it gone? Don’t you just want life to get better?
In John 17 as Jesus prays for His disciples and ultimately all believers, notice how He prays. He prays that the Father would not take them out of the world but that He would protect them from the evil one as they live in the world. How comforting to know that Jesus is praying for us who are actively following Him (John 17:6)! Jesus is actively interceding for His disciples and praying that the circumstances of life would not be removed, necessarily, but that, ultimately, His people would find joy in Him. Look at John 17:13. Jesus prays for our protection (v. 11), so that “…they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”
One of my favorite verses to cling to when facing challenging circumstances or temptations is Psalm 16:11- “You make known to me the path of life. In your presence, there is fullness of joy…” That’s exactly what Jesus is praying for here in John 17. He’s praying for our joy to be complete in Him so we can live life on mission for His glory. God has a purpose and a mission for us here in this world. We are not of the world just as Jesus was not of the world, but we are sent to live in the world as Jesus was sent to live in this world to bring glory to his name (John 17:10). We aren’t promised to have circumstances removed in our life. We are promised, however, that we will find joy in Christ and in the presence of God despite our circumstances and we can trust this truth because we have Jesus Christ, the Son of God, praying for us on our behalf in Heaven. That’s not to say we can’t pray for God to remove the trials we face. We should always bring our supplications to God. And God graciously gives us everything we need. But we should reorient our prayers to focus on finding joy in Christ as we trust His promises through our circumstances. God promises to protect us (in keeping our joy complete) when we trust in Him to deliver us through our circumstances. As disciples of Christ, we will face challenging circumstances. Let it be our goal then, in those circumstances, to seek joy and the protection of God in Christ whenever we face difficulties. Remember and be encouraged that God WILL protect us and give us all joy in Christ when we are in His presence even here in this world today!
- What circumstances are you facing that rob you of joy in Christ?
- What does God promise to do for you in those circumstances?
- Pray and meditate on God’s promises and trust that He will give you a full measure of Christ’s joy as you listen to His Word and obey.