It’s a Hard-knock Life

John 16:33

The little redhead sang the song so joyfully, “it’s a hard knock life”. I remember seeing the movie, based on the Broadway play, which was based on the comic strip. “Little Orphan Annie” and smiling as she dance and declared victory over the hard-knock life.
The year was 1982, as I recall. My oldest daughter was three and her mother and I took her to see Annie win the heart of Daddy Warbucks and defeat the likes of Mrs Hannigan, played then by Carol Burnett. Since then, there has been yet another remake of the motion picture. It too was a family favorite for so many of a new generation.
Why did this Broadway musical and the subsequent movies do so well? Why did people respond so favorably to the sweet spirited story of a little orphan and her terrible circumstances? Well, the answer is “it’s a hard-knock life” and people want to be encouraged as they have to deal with those indescrible challenges.
Jesus, in earthly ministry, spoke realistically about this hard-knock life so many times. Yet, my favorite verse concerning the hard-knock life is found in John 16:33. “In the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”.

I. We live in a world of chaos.

You don’t have to be a news junkie to understand this as a reality. Chaos, rather than order, seem to rule the day in our world. Despite the fact that we have this transformational movement called globalization, where countries lose something of their distinctive borders as nations and where people can instant message, text message and email countless numbers of people, chaos still has it’s way.
Not too long ago, there was Bosnia and Rwanda and now there is the Sudan and other chaotic places where death, destruction and disease exit alongside the development of globalization. When the so called Iron Curtain came down and Communist as a reigning force declined as a political philosophy, so many of thought, “now we can make progress”. Progress has come. The internet is not 20 years old. Nations and societies are developing and still chaos is ever present.
In a missions trip to Guatemala, I took notice of the presence of very well armed guards all over the commercial sections of the capital city. Why? Crime and the chaos it brings is present. if you don’t guard it you lose it.
When Natalie Holloway disappeared several years ago, the world of chaos came home to the American public anew. We have seen her blonde hair and smiling face on television an incalculable number of times. There is only a slight chance the real story will ever be known as to her mysterious disappearance.
All of my life the Middle East has been a hot spot. It continues to be today. We have 130,000 or more troops in Iraq and another 15,000 in Afghanistan. Thousands of other military personnel are around the world in places of service, where we hear little news.
Chaos is global but it is also local. We watch the local news and just cringe to hear the accounts of killing and other sorts of crime. A young man can go to a Walmart and then leave to go to his truck for his trip home, only to shot in the back of the head. The criminals just wanted his truck. What chaos!!!!
Chaos is global and local and it is very much personal. What kind of personal chaos are you experiencing? I am thinking of a family, a good and faithful christian couple, who have worked hard all their lives in a business. Now she has cancer. Their middle aged son died mysteriously and they are the grandparents to grieving grandchildren, one of them only seven years of age. Chaos in a personal way.
This personal Katrina like chaos can be cited over and over again to the point we all can become discouraged, if not depressed. Jesus said, “in the world you Will have tribulation (chaos)”. This was an if but a when kind of declaration. But lest we fall into despair listen now to second part of His declaration.

II. In the world you will have chaos but be courageous.

“Be of good cheer” Jesus said. What was that you said Jesus? With all the global, local and personal chaos, did you say, “Be of good cheer”?  Yes, that is what our Lord declared.
The NT Greek word translated often as “Be of good cheer” can also be translated “Be courageous”. The Holman Christian Standard Bible offers this translation, “In this world you will have suffering. But take courage…”. I like that rendering of this hard saying of Jesus.
How do we take courage in the midst of chaos? By looking to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His life is an example of calm in the time of chaos. His life was always in danger, even before the cross. There were people plotting his demise and when the time came to face the cross, He did it with the ultimate calm in chaos. We call that courage.
The word courage comes from the Latin derivative “cour” meaning “heart”. To take heart is to be courageous, to lose heart is to be discouraged. The help others take heart is to encourage them.
Pauline Jacobi, a 92 year old christian, demonstrated such courage recently. When she left WalMart to get into her car, a man got in on the driver side and told her he had a gun. He wanted her money. Pauline Jacobi of Dyersburg, Tenn said, “No” three times to man.
He was shocked! Here is an elderly woman defying him in his effort to get some quick money. She then began to witness to the would be thief. Pauline told him about Jesus and he began to shed some tears. She challenged him to pray and receive Christ. Then, surprisingly she said, “now I am gong to give you all the cash I have, but don’t you buy any whiskey with it”. She gave him a ten dollar bill and the man leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. That is courage personified.

III. In the world you will have chaos but be courageous because Jesus has conquered it all.

Jesus Christ is the Victor!!!! He has overcome the world of chaos. Our courage is not grounded in our own power or strength, it is in the power and strength of the One who overcame death and all it means.
Every Easter Sunday, my wife Pam, wants to hear “He Arose” sung in some fashion. There are times she has had to sing it herself. “Up from the grave He arose” speaks of this conquering power of Jesus Christ. Is there still death? Yes, but death does not have the final word. Is there disease? Yes, of course, but illnesses are temporary, life in Christ is eternal. Is there still chaos globally, locally and personally? Absolutely, chaos is still with us because we live in a world of sin and selfishness. But Jesus has overcome sin.
Indeed we do have a hard-knock life but we don’t have to be like little orphan Annie and wait on a benevolent Daddy Warbucks to come and rescue us. We have a Savior and a Lord, named Jesus, who has overcome it all for us!! That turns chaos into order, fear into courage and defeat into victory!!!!
Rick Lance
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