In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
Jesus here is speaking to his disciples in the last hours of his life. Earlier, Jesus explicitly told his disciples that they would be hated by the world, precisely because of their faith in him. “If you were of the world,” Jesus said in John 15:19, “the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” It is a sobering statement that Jesus made. Even though we know from scripture that the disciples at this point still did not fully understand what Jesus’s ultimate purpose was, I am sure that this heavy word caused them to do a lot of soul searching.
It is essential to note what had been said prior to the “in the world you will have tribulation” quote. Jesus confirmed for the disciples that as long as they were in him, they would find true peace. He also confirmed that, even though he would be leaving them, they would not be left alone—and that their sorrow at his leaving would be brief. It would soon turn to joy.
We see in particular in the book of Acts—after the ascension—a group of disciples filled with the Holy Spirit of God. We see followers of Jesus who are no longer afraid, and who radiate joy in all circumstances. It is only by the peace that comes through being in Christ that those we read about in Acts are able to be joy-filled and peace-filled. The same is true for disciples of Christ in any generation: in this world we will have tribulation. But in Christ there is peace, there is joy, and there is victory.