One of the teen girls in my discipleship group called me the other day in complete tears. She had just received the news about a friend being admitted into the ICU, yet she was on the way to a baby shower. How was she supposed to celebrate a joyful occasion when her friend was so sick? Was she supposed to fake being happy while hurting on the inside?
Even as an adult, I find myself struggling to answer these same questions. How can I find hope in a world that feels full of despair? How is there room for peace when all I feel is grief? How can there be healing when all I see is suffering? How do I rejoice when Christians are being persecuted all over the world?
We can’t diminish the immense grief and brokenness and suffering we witness on a daily basis to those all around us. But in that very same breath, we also can’t diminish the joy, hope, healing, peace, love, and so much more that we get when we follow Jesus.
Friends, we get the both/and when we follow Him. He made that clear in John 16:33:
“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
We’d be burying our heads in the sand to say that as Christians, we will never grieve or hurt. Jesus was explicit in saying that there will be suffering. Our world is broken. We are sinful humans, and there is a real enemy out to steal, kill, and destroy. We shouldn’t be surprised by any of it.
But Jesus didn’t just leave us to our pain and brokenness, and say, “Good Luck.” In that very same verse about suffering, He said, “In me you may have peace.… Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
I have had countless days this summer where I personally wrestled with heart-wrenching grief and experienced deep brokenness and witnessed immense suffering. Yet on those very same days, I have prayed with hope and walked toward healing and rejoiced like never before.
Let’s teach our girls the beauty of both/and. Following Jesus doesn’t eliminate our pain, but we get SO MUCH MORE when we follow Him.
We discover His peace.
We experience real joy.
We find deep healing.
We have eternal hope.
We have Him. And that is all we need to face anything that might come our way!
Amanda Mejias serves as the Lifeway Girls Brand Specialist, which is just a super fun way of saying that she serves parents and leaders of teen girls. After serving on church staff for many years, she is passionate about building relationships and creating resources that equip the local church. Amanda is married to her wonderful husband, Brandon and they have a daughter named Blakely. When she is not chasing her toddler around, Amanda is always down to hear a good joke, meet for coffee, and talk about her golden retriever.