Never Promised You a Rose Garden
Saturday - May 14th
Today's Scripture to Read: John 16:29-33
“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.”
-Jesus (John 16:33)
In October of 1970, country music singer Lynn Anderson released a song that had already been released by two other artists, one in 1967 and the other in 1969. It was Anderson's version and the third public release of the song that became a major hit - reaching number three on Billboard's top 100 songs. "Never Promised You a Rose Garden" or "Rose Garden" fit nicely in the style of popular Country and Western songs of the 1970s. It remains a familiar hit from that decade. The song declared that romantic relationships could promise a lot of things—diamonds, the moon, a smile, but never a garden of roses. Common vernacular often uses the image of the rose garden to describe ease in life. No romantic relationship can promise the absence of troubles and only the presence of beautiful things. Most of us would say that the lack of a "Rose Garden" experience makes our relationships with those we love even stronger. Many prominent Christian broadcasting voices of the last several decades have promised that if you come to faith in Jesus and then walk faithfully with Him, you will always be healthy and wealthy. They encourage their followers to live out the Christian life so well that God will reward them with a problem-free experience. Some even go so far as to promise that a faithful Christian life will never again face trials or troubles. Trials and troubles, so they say, actually indicate a spiritual problem or a lack of genuine faith. The issue with making a promise of no struggles in this life for Christ's followers rests in the fact that Jesus Himself never promised such a thing. He promised precisely the opposite. In John 16:33, Jesus said, "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." He told them that part of the peace they needed was knowing what to expect. They should expect no better treatment from the world than He had received. They should expect no immunity from suffering and pain. Jesus did promise that the troubles and trials of life would not have the ultimate victory. Jesus will have the victory because, as the Resurrected Savior, He has overcome all of the brokenness, evil, and heartache of this world.
He promised His disciples in the Upper Room that they would not go through life living in a utopian rose garden, but would struggle with the problems and challenges others around them would face too. We are not immune to the harshness of disease, death, and sin. But, these things do not define us or have the last say in our lives. Jesus and His victory define us. He never promised us a rose garden. But, he did guarantee us victory! We are overcomers with Him!
God promises us peace through Christ, even in the middle of life's most difficult troubles!