I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Recently I was having a conversation with a friend and we were chatting about world events. Each of us added to the conversation topics ranging from cultural changes, the political landscape, global crisis, and the weather. Not light conversation but topics that are on everyone’s radar these days. In fact part of our conversation also included our own questions and concerns. How could these events affect us? Our children? Our communities?
Certainly our world has been going through huge changes for centuries. As we age, we are even more aware of these changes especially as we have our own families. How can we effectively navigate the turbulent adjustments we see in our world, so that we are not consumed with fear and hopelessness? Can we come to live with a balance where we can be a part of our world but not be overwhelmed by its changes? I absolutely think we can. In fact, I believe we can live above the worry and concern to be channels of God’s peace.
The words of Jesus in John’s gospel give us a picture of how we can learn to trust God’s plan for our lives which is meant for good and not for evil (Jeremiah 29:11). Just like His early disciples, we can step out in faith, believing God will guide us as we live on this earth. Even though there are many bad things happening around us, even possibly affecting us, we can choose to see God’s hand of blessing through these times. Jesus had this to say:
“I have said these things to you”:
At this point in the gospel the disciples were personally with Jesus for many months, day and night, seeing His works, hearing His teachings, emulating His mannerisms. He taught them these words and they saw Him put these into practice. Jesus was laying a foundation of faith and trust in these men that through their knowledge of Him, they would be able to live out what he had taught them, even when He was not with them. Through the ultimate scene of sacrifice at the cross and beyond they lived out what he had said to them. This was only achieved through daily intimacy of His life being imparted to them.
“That in me you may have peace”:
What everyone desires but is it attainable? Yes! Jesus offers a peace which comes when you relinquish your life to Him. When you lay down the need to have all the answers to the world’s problems. It’s laying down the need to control your destiny. It’s relying on the One who created you. Godly peace is beyond human understanding because it is not something you get by your own work–it is given by God as you yield to Him and His power to transform you.
“In the world you will have tribulation”:
Here are a few synonyms for tribulation: suffering, distress, trouble, woe, misery, unhappiness, sadness, heartache, grief, sorrow, pain. Can you relate to these? We all can. But Jesus! He is near to us even in life’s most difficult moments. Think of times in your own life how He has moved in such a personal way and you have seen His provision. So amazing. He longs for us to trust and rely on Him through ALL of life, not just when we are doing well and feeling fine. These words from John 16 were spoken by Jesus to His disciples so that they would know He loved them and had prepared a plan for them to live without Him.
“But take heart. I have overcome the world’:
Take heart: to be courageous; to regain one’s courage., help will arrive shortly and everything will be fine. WOW! I love this definition. And this is exactly what Jesus meant when He was speaking to His disciples. He was instructing them about the coming of the Holy Spirit as their Comforter, their Helper and Teacher when he would be gone as he returned to His Father. His ultimate message to them was to look beyond the immediate turmoil to see the big plan. And His big plan was overcoming sin and spiritual death. He was going to die a criminal’s death on the cross. He knew this but they didn’t yet. Of course they were confused and they told Him. Still, He encouraged them. He helped them to see the big picture. He was the Overcomer then and he still is for us today as we trust Him.
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