“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
As anyone from the East Coast knows, heading to central or western Canada via the Trans-Canada always involves “getting through Montreal.” Highway 40’s weird off-ramps, hairpin twists, and an oddly high percentage of vehicles without signal lights make this an hour of white-knuckle driving in each direction. We’ve made the Ontario-PEI trip at least once yearly for the past 25 years, and although we’ve never had any accidents or mishaps, this is always the part of the trip we just wish was over — or even better, that we could avoid entirely.
When we arrived in PEI this past summer someone said, “Why don’t you try the new bypass?”
“NEW BYPASS?” we asked, wide-eyed. Yes, the newly-completed Highway 30 now goes completely around Montreal to the south, connecting 20 on the west side to 20 on the east, allowing east-west drivers to completely avoid the dreaded Highway 40.
On our return journey, we eagerly awaited the exit to Highway 30. “Follow that car!” I said when we reached Exit 98 … and suddenly our whole travel experience changed. Highway 30 was quiet, taking a long, actually fairly boring loop around the south end of the city. Did I say boring? Bring it on! It was great: an hour of relaxed, calm travel compared to an hour of white-knuckle lane changes. And the toll: one dollar and fifty cents. We’d probably have paid twenty dollars without hesitation. It looks like our trips to and from PEI will be quite different from now on without the dreaded Montreal Factor.
This got me thinking about the journey of life. I wondered what would happen if someone told me, “All those stressful, painful parts of life? Guess what? You don’t have to go through those! You can just take The Bypass; it’s quiet, inexpensive, and stress-free.”
Sometimes it looks, from the outside, as if some people actually do get that kind of offer — and take it! Some people’s lives look more like smooth, relaxing Highway 30’s while others are more like tense, white-knuckle 40’s. I don’t know why that is — and I expect that if I saw more deeply below the surface, I’d realize that the easy-seeming lives are not what they appear — but I know that Jesus made it very clear that being His follower was not a “free pass” to a trouble-free life. “In this world you WILL have trouble,” He said. It’s a given. We all suffer, we all grieve, we all struggle. But that’s not the whole story: He assured His disciples, and He assures us, that peace and joy are possible because He has “overcome the world.” By dying and rising again He conquered the power of death, and now no suffering that we experience here on earth can have the last word. Jesus has that.
I wasn’t given any choice in the most challenging aspects of my life: such as having a daughter with Asperger Syndrome and a son with developmental disabilities, seizures, and Autism Spectrum Disorder. No one offered me the bypass, and even if they had I’m not sure I’d have had the wisdom to decide whether to take it or not. So I’m glad that it’s not all up to me — and that Jesus promises His presence and strength no matter what road I’m facing.
Are you anxious about the next stage of your own journey? Let Jesus’ words encourage you: “In me you may have peace.”