Craig Groeschel - Jesus Never Said You Won't Have Bad Days
Well, I am so glad to have all of you guys today with us at church and all over the world at church online. One of my favorite things to do is meet people at the gym. If you're at the gym and you say, hey, there's Craig, come say hi, because I love doing this, I love especially hanging out with people that are not yet followers of Christ, developing friendships. I met a guy, developed kind of a friendship over time, he calls me Preacher Preacher, and after a period of time I realized it was probably appropriate for me to maybe share my faith in a non-weird, hopefully, way, and I started to talk to him about spiritual things, and he said, "Preacher Preacher, I like you and all, but I don't wanna hear the Jesus stuff". I said, "Fair enough, I won't give you the Jesus stuff, but I'm just curious, why don't you want the Jesus stuff"? And he said, "Well, I tried Jesus and it didn't work". I said, "Fair enough, I'm just curious, how'd you try him and how did it not work"? And he said, "Preacher Preacher, I went to church for almost two months straight, and during that time my girlfriend broke up with me, I lost my job, and my plumbing backed up. I tried Jesus and it didn't work".
Sounds like a bad country song, my dog got run over, I spilled my beer or whatever, like that. This message is dedicated to any of you who feel like you're trying to do the Jesus stuff, and life is not going the way you would expect. We're in a message series called Things Jesus Never Said. Why are we talking about what Jesus didn't say? What Jesus said is so otherworldly, so powerful, so profound that sometimes it's good to look at what he didn't say, what he could've said, in order to see the power of what he did say. Today I wanna look at what Jesus didn't say about having good days, about having bad days, about life always being blessed. Just for fun we'll start out with some things Jesus didn't say to keep in tradition with the other weeks. What did Jesus not say? He never said, whoever does the will of my Father will always get the best parking spots. He didn't say that. He never said if you lose your life for my sake, you'll always look great in your swimsuit. I'm sorry, swimsuit weather is coming, he didn't say that. He never said, but seek first the kingdom of God, and you will never get a zit before prom. Jesus did not say that.
The big question about getting a zit is pop or not? To pop or not? I was a popper, bonus points if you get something on the mirror. I'm sorry, hey, if you're gonna have fun, have some fun. You know what real love is, right? When you're close enough to pop the zit on the back of your spouse, #relationshipgoals. Here's what I hope you'll understand, Jesus never ever promised that you'd always be healthy, that you'd certainly be wealthy, that you'd always get the best parking spots, that your WiFi would never buffer when you're watching Netflix. He never promised your spouse wouldn't get a headache when you're in the mood. Nobody said amen, like, I don't know what he's talking about. I have a buddy, he goes up to his wife and he says "Here's two extra strength painkillers", and she was like, "What's that for"? He said, "That's for your headache". She said, "I don't have a headache". He goes, anyway. Someone's writing that down. Things Jesus never said.
What I do wanna do today is I wanna look at what Jesus did say in John's gospel, John chapter 16. The context Jesus was going to let them know he was gonna give his life, and he was giving his disciples last minute instructions. These are kinda my final thoughts, my final prayer, to empower you to go out on your mission, and this is what Jesus said in John 16:20, he said about his impending death, he said, very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. He didn't say you're gonna rejoice and always be happy, but he actually said you're gonna be incredibly upset, you're gonna weep and mourn while the world, everybody say the world. The world. Jesus is gonna use the phrase the world 19 times in his upcoming speech and prayer. He's gonna say, peace I give to you, but I do not give as the world gives. He's gonna say, I came from the Father to the world, and I'm leaving the world and going back to the Father. He's gonna tell them, if the world hates you, remember it hated me first. He's gonna say, if you belong to the world, then you would love it as your own, but you do not belong to the world. He's gonna tell them that's why the world hates you. When he prays he's gonna say, God, don't take them out of the world. He wants us to know that though we live in this world, we are not of this world. He talks a lot about the world.
Verse 20, look at it again. He says, very truly I tell you, you'll weep and mourn while the world rejoices, and then he says, you will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain, because her time has come, but when the baby is born, she forgets the anguish, because of her joy that child is born into this world. I saw that six times with Amy every time she gave birth. Amy is not at this service, which gives me complete freedom in the word of God. I don't know what's up with this chick. I lover her, but she only got an epidural one time, and then for some reason she just decided it would make her feel closer to God and closer to the baby to feel the pain. I'm kinda like, God gave people a brain, who gave us medicine, take the drugs. But nevertheless, she's like, "This is gonna be so holy".
Well, the first time she did it with no pain, it was like Holy for about 30 seconds and then it got real. She goes through this phase where it's not that bad, and then it's like, this is the worst thing ever, get me out of here, I quit, then it always turns on moi. Somewhere in there she looks at me and she goes, "You did this to me, do something about it"! "I tried, I told you to take the drugs"! Then at the end all six times, there's one of the most holy moments that anyone could ever have, and that's when she holds her newborn child, and all the pain vanishes. And never one time did she say it wasn't worth the pain. Jesus says you're gonna weep and you're gonna mourn, there's gonna be some bad days, but your pain will turn into joy when you continue to walk with Jesus. He goes on to say this in verse 22, so with you, now is your time of grief, but I will see you again, and you will rejoice. I love this phrase, and no one will take away your joy. Verse 33 is incredibly important, Jesus explains why he's giving them this message. He says, I've told you these things, so that in me, somebody say in me. In me. He's gonna say that in Christ, in me, in my presence, when you dwell in me you may have peace.
Then instead of talking about being in his presence, he talks again about being in this world, and when he says in this world, he doesn't say you'll always have good days, you'll never have pain, you're gonna crush it, you're gonna own it, you go girl! He never ever says you're always gonna be blessed, the sun's always gonna be at your back, the wind's always gonna be behind you. What he does say is this, he says, in this world you will have trouble. It's a promise. Challenges are certain, pain is a promise, suffering in this world, Jesus says, is inevitable. Welcome to Life.Church where we're here to make you feel good about yourself. You have to see this, just because you follow Jesus, doesn't mean you're promised a pain free life. He says you will be persecuted, you will face hardships, you will face trouble.
And tragically that's where some of you are right now. You're in the middle of a very difficult season in your life. You might feel left out, overlooked, rejected, perhaps all alone. There are those of you who you've failed at something, you've lost your confidence, and you're in a season of trying to shake off depression, but no matter how hard you try it just gets heavier and heavier in your soul. Some of you, it's a dark time financially right now. The pressure, it just hangs there, and it just will not go away. Tragically there are so many of you with health challenges. Amy and I are praying for very close friends right now who are facing dramatic health challenges. Others of you, it's relational. You've got a kid that no matter how much you love, no matter how hard you try, your child continues to make decisions that you know are dangerous. You're trying to love them in the right direction, but they continue to go in the wrong direction. Maybe it's work, whatever it is, the pain feels unbearable, there's more to do that humanly possible, you're afraid, you're hurting, you're overwhelmed, and it doesn't seem like anyone understands.
And it's in times like that you're tempted to be just like my buddy at the gym, and wonder, God, where are you? I'm trying to follow you, I'm doing the Jesus thing, and all I'm feeling is pain, hitting a wall, hitting resistance. Where are you, God? If pain is a promise, then there must be some type of purpose behind what God would allow to us his children, who he loves so much. And that's what I wanna talk about today, two of the blessings that we actually experienced in trouble and hardship. The first one, if you're jotting down notes is this, trouble and hardship proves your faith, it proves your faith, it reveals the depth of your faith and trust in Jesus. In fact, in Peter's epistle he was writing to a group of extremely persecuted Jesus followers. Around the year 60 to 65 A.D. the evil Emperor Nero was persecuting followers of Christ in ways that are even difficult for me to get my mind around. One thing that he would do is this, he would take animal skins off of dead animals, and skin the animals, put the skin around the body of Christians, sew them into it, and then release wild dogs to attack these Christians, and watch and cheer as the dogs would eat the Christians alive.
If that's not crazy enough, he would throw parties at his palace, and he would pour wax onto Christians, tie them to trees, and then light them on fire, and make these human candles as he was entertaining guests to the screams of dying Christians. Into that very context, Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, pens these words, when he says in First Peter 1:6, so be truly glad. There is a wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. And then he says something that's always gripped me. He says, these trials will show that your faith is genuine. Whenever I think about that, if there's such thing as a genuine faith, there must also be something as a counterfeit faith. In fact if there is one fear that weighs on me as a pastor, in this culture today, in my part of the world, I'm afraid there are so many people that have a counterfeit faith. It looks real from the outside, but the roots don't go deep underneath.
One of the reasons I think I know this so well is because this was me for so much of my life. I grew up going to church. I knew when to stand up and to sit down, and to stand up and to sit down, and I could find the hymn number 353 and sing it with you, but on the outside I looked like a follower of Christ, but on the inside it just wasn't real. One thing that's interesting to me is that people I don't even know often confess things to me. It's bizarre. Amy and I were at a restaurant and we had a really cool waiter that we met, and he was pretty excited to see us. He was like, "Oh my gosh, you're my pastor, you're my pastor, I like Life.Church, I love Life.Church". He goes, "I go all the time". And then he said, "I'm sorry, I'm lying, I haven't been in a couple of months". He goes, "I just lied again, I haven't been in a couple years". And then he started telling me what happened, how his grandmother got sick and died, and he got mad at God, and he lost his job, and so he had to work an extra job, and the next thing you know he started drinking, and then he started doing drugs, and then he started doing meth. I'm like, "I'm just trying to order my grilled chicken, and we're having a prayer for your meth problem".
And what was so interesting to this is how often something like this happens. Hey, I'm kind of in the church thing, I'm doing the God thing, I'm doing the God thing, and then something bad happens and we're pulled away. Our roots aren't deep enough. Jesus told a parable about that. He said, sometimes a little plant grows up and the thorns choke out the life. He says, the worries and the cares of this world make it unfruitful. He says, sometimes the roots don't grow deep enough, and whenever trouble or hardship comes, suddenly it's scorched out. With everything in me I don't want that to happen to you. Trouble and hardship proves your faith. What do you see so often? I've got migraines, God, where are you? I got rejected from grad school, God, I can't trust you. You didn't answer my prayer. God, you must not be real. No, actually it's in those times when you have a genuine faith, and your roots are deep, and when the sun burns and the wind blows you stand strong, because your faith is real. Trials prove your faith.
What's so interesting is what Jesus does, he contrasts two things, you cannot miss this. He says in me, and he says in the world, and he says, in the world you will have trouble. That's a part of being in a broken sin stained world. There's trouble, but he says, in me you will have peace. In the middle of trouble in a sin-filled world, you can still have peace from heaven, a peace that goes beyond our human ability to understand or even comprehend. Trials, trouble, it proves your faith. To me one of the most pointed times as a church when we felt this was in the very early years. We were still in one location, and the church was small enough to where most everybody knew most everybody, and there was a gentleman named Bill who was then much younger than I am now. He was a dad of five kids, they were very close to us and so many people in the church, and Bill got very very sick, and we prayed and prayed and prayed, and had all church prayer meetings, and believed that God was gonna heal Bill. I don't think there was a person there that didn't have faith to believe that God was gonna raise him up. Unfortunately Bill didn't make it and we were all devastated.
I came to do one of my first funerals in the church, and I planned it all out, and I felt confident that God had given me the words to say to bring comfort. The problem is I forgot the opening words. How do you start a funeral? What do you say? Wedding like, dearly beloved, whatever, funeral, what do you say at the very beginning? So I stood there with my whole text prepared and I forgot, what do I say first? I panicked, it was awkward, I paused, I looked out at all these people grieving, asking spiritual questions as was I, couldn't think of what to say, and then it dawned on me, back then when I would lead the stage time like your pastor does, I would always open the same way, every week, every time, every service, every single time I would step up, I would declare by faith, God is good, and the church would say, all the time. And I would say all the time, and the church would say, God is good. And so at that moment I thought, I'll just go with what I know. And I declared, "God is good", and at that moment there was like this massive sigh. Tears broke out all over the place, and they were not tears of sadness, because God at that moment had turned the sadness into joy. It was real to us. The goodness of God was more real in the downtime than he was in the uptime. He is good all the time.
Trials and trouble, they prove your faith. If you're still standing your faith is real. If you're still here trying to worship in the middle of the trial your faith is real, and no one can take away what God is doing in you, because I promise you he will turn your grief into joy. Trials and trouble, they prove your faith. They also prepare you for purpose. It's not just something happening to you, but it's something God is doing in you. You wanna grow stronger, you want better faith, you wanna be prepared to do more. Newsflash, ease and comfort never make you stronger. That's right. If I go to the gym and we're working out together, what makes us stronger? Not sitting on the sofa listening to Spotify, but taking some weights and letting the resistance strengthen us along the way. Resistance strengthens your faith. In fact, I like to try to read James chapter one, like I've never read it before. It's so mind-blowing to think about God's word to you if you're in the middle of a trial right now. James says this, he says, consider it pure joy, and in other words, you can thank God for it, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith, it does something in you, it develops perseverance. He says, let perseverance finish its work, so you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. It prepares you for purpose.
Sometimes people will ask me, Craig, how do you deal with all the criticism? How do you deal with all the people that hate you? How do you deal with the pain that people heap upon you? My mom's kinda funny, because when someone finds out that her maiden name is Groeschel, they'll say, are you related to Craig Groeschel? And she'll say, "Uh, do you like him"? And if they say yes, she says, "Well, he's my son". And if she says, "Do you like him"? and they say, "No". , she says, "I've never heard of the guy". How do I deal with the hate, the criticism? Let me tell you this right now, and here's a promise, praise and compliments did not prepare me for criticism. Someone saying, you're great, we love you, it doesn't make me stronger. What makes me stronger is rejection, being passed over for ordination the first time, young guy, you're not good enough, rejected for ordination, that made me stronger. The roots had to grow deeper. Do I believe that I am who they say I am, or do I believe that I am who God says I am? Being this close to being fired from my old church, because my ideas were to out there, I was too annoying, that made me stronger.
When people come at you anonymous letter, anonymous letter, anonymous letter, put your name on there, come on, you know my name, put your name on there big boy. You wanna play in the big leagues? Take your gloves off, let's play. The social media, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah blah, blah, blah. What does that do? You put your confidence in God, you put your confidence in God, you put your confidence in God. It's the resistance that's doing something in you, preparing you for something in the future. You say, I don't see the point. I'm so discouraged, I'm overwhelmed, I'm afraid. Listen to me, could it be that God's preparation comes packaged as pain? Oh, I don't even know where you are or how you're sitting there right now, but could it be that the very thing God is preparing in you, for you to do later on, it comes packaged as hardship, as trouble, as trial. How did God prepare Joseph to rule over Egypt? By being rejected by his brothers, by being sold into slavery, by being falsely accused of a crime he did not commit. The roots were growing deeper, his confidence was growing stronger.
Peter in the New Testament walks on water until he looks away, and then he's in the water. What did that do? It put him to a place where he needed to trust in Jesus even more. He's bold, Jesus, I will never deny you, I'm always gonna be here, I'm your guy. And if these other losers deny you, I never will. One, two, three times to little girls, he denies Jesus. And Jesus reinstates him, validates him with his love, says, you're still called, go out and feed my sheep. How did God prepare Peter to be the gift speaker on the Day of Pentecost? He developed resilience through resistance. Could it be that God's preparation for you often comes packaged as pain? Sometimes I just tell myself, it's not pain, it's preparation. Tell yourself, it's not pain, it's not just what's happening to me, it's God doing something in me. He's strengthening me, he's preparing me for something to come. Change your perspective, you aren't turned down, you're being toughened up.
The offense, what does it do? It's purifying your heart, it's cleansing your soul. The lowliness, it's teaching you to trust God, it's forcing you to be more intimate with him than you've ever been in your life. The betrayal, it's increasing your capacity to love like Jesus loved, to forgive like Jesus forgave. The setback, maybe it's a setup for God to show up and to show off. If you're wracked with pain, there's always a purpose in your pain. God never ever wastes a hurt. It proves your faith, it prepares you for purpose. I hope you'll understand, I hope you'll embrace the good news, the gospel, the good news of God's love, the good news of his grace, the good news of his presence. The good news is not that Jesus delivers you from your pain, the good news is that Jesus delivers you from your sins, the good news is that his grace is here, that he is real, and he is working in all things. He never promised you your girlfriend wouldn't break up with you, you wouldn't lose your job, and your plumbing wouldn't back up.
Following Jesus isn't about having life the way you want it on Earth. It's actually about denying yourself, taking up your cross dying to self to follow him. This world is temporary, this world is passing, this world is fading away, and that's why Jesus said this, he said, in this world you will have trouble, but take heart, for I have overcome the world. In this world you will have heartache, you will have pain, you will be rejected, you will cry yourself to sleep sometimes at nights, but in Christ you can have a peace that goes beyond the human ability to understand. And that's why, can I be honest with you? That's why I can be hurting on the inside, with all sorts of personal pain, smile on the outside, and preach with fierce faith, because my faith has been proven. You would knock me down, but I'm coming back, 'cause my roots are deep. And if there is anything strong in me today, it's not me, it's been him in me preparing me for purpose. In this world you will have trouble, that's why I love what John says, for everyone born of God.
Are you born of God, do you have real faith, is it genuine faith? Because if you do, you will overcome the world. The victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it, who is it that thrives in the brokenness of this world? Who is it that lets the light shine in the darkness? Who is it that has faith, even though they don't see with their eyes? Who is it that comes back and continues to believe in Jesus? Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the son of God, the one who said it, the one who lived it. In this world you will have bad days, you will have heartbreaks, you will have letdowns, you will have trouble. That's what Jesus says, but he also said this, I have overcome the world. In the world you will have trouble, but in Christ you have peace.
So Father, today we pray for that peace from heaven, make yourself known, God. I pray for those maybe with counterfeit faith, you'd prove their faith, God, take it deep, make it real. All of our churches, as you're reflecting in prayer today, I know that there are so many of you that are hurting, and with a pastor's heart, I ache and hurt and grieve with you. If you say, I need an extra dose of the presence of God, I need his grace, I need his presence, would you lift up your hands right now. All of our different churches. You're hurting, you're in the middle of the dark seas, and lift up your hands right now as an act of faith. God, I pray for all those who are struggling, those who are facing significant burdens, God, I pray that somehow in the middle of this we could recognize that you are still good, you are still good, that your goodness isn't based on our circumstances, it's based on your nature. And God, I pray that we could sometimes look at pain and look it straight in the face and say, it's not just pain, it's preparation. You're doing something in us, 'cause you wanna do even more through us, God. Help us trust in you. The evidence of the quality of our life isn't a reflection of your goodness. We live in a broken world, God, so may we rejoice in our sufferings, considering it pure joy, 'because God, you're maturing us, you're completing us, so we can do your will on Earth, God, as it is in heaven.
As you keep praying today at all of our different churches, I know that there are some of you that you may be really, really low right now, I'm convinced that in his goodness and grace, there are times when God may allow us to get so low that we can only look up. There are those of you it's time to look to him, to look to him, to surrender your whole life to him. There are those of you today, you may recognize, my faith might be honestly a little more counterfeit than it is real. This was my story growing up, I knew the lingo in my head, but it wasn't alive in my heart. At all of our churches today, those of you who say, maybe the weight of my sin is real, let me tell you who Jesus is. He is the son of God, he was sinless. He died on the cross, he died on the cross as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. On the third day when they went and looked for him, the stone, it had been moved, the tomb, it was empty. He was not there. Our God raised him from the dead.
Why? So that anyone, and this includes you, it doesn't matter who you are, it doesn't matter what you've done, anyone who calls on that name that is above every name, the name of Jesus, the savior, the son of God, the risen one, the conquering King of kings and Lord of lords, when you call on his name you're saved, you're forgiven, you're changed, you're new, you're different, you don't wanna go back to your old way, because you're different. It's not counterfeit, it's real. For those of you, you're not sure, you don't know where you are, the weight of your sin weighs upon you, you call on his name, he removes your guilt, he forgives your sins. It's not because you're good, it's because he's good. The good news is not that he delivers you from pain, the good news is that he forgives your sins.
And all of our churches, those who say I wanna know him, I wanna depend on him, I want him in my life, I want him to lead my life, my life is not my own, I give it to him, today I surrender Jesus, I give you my whole life, lift up your hands now all over the place, and say yes, that's my prayer. Lift 'em up high and say yes Jesus. Right back here in this section, praise God for you, others of you over here, right back over here in this side, over here as well, church oughta worship God a little bit, others of you say yes Jesus, I surrender, I give you my life. Church online, you guys click right below me, and if you wouldn't mind, all of our churches, why don't we just stand to our feet together in unity with those around us today. We're going to lift our voices and celebrate new life in Christ. The angels in heaven will be rejoicing in moments and so will we. Would you pray aloud, pray,
Heavenly Father, I give you my life. Jesus, forgive my sins. Save me. Change me. Make me new. Fill me with your Spirit, so I could show your love, walk in your truth and to make you known. My life is not my own. I give it all to you. Thank you for new life. Now you have mine. In Jesus name I pray.