“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Is it any surprise that we consistently seem to have trouble in the world? It is, to the degree that we are thinking incorrectly about our relatively brief stay on this planet. If we think we deserve a trouble-free existence, or if such an existence is our goal, we have gotten the wrong idea about life, especially when it comes to following Jesus.
Jesus makes it very clear here. In the world we will have tribulation, but in Christ, we will have peace. That is to be expected.
What’s the point here? To not spend lots of time, effort and money trying to remove our troubles in life as if we could eventually eliminate them all. Or to think that “normal” is trouble-free. “In this world you will have tribulation,” Jesus said. There are no conditions on this. Not just now and then, or that we might have tribulation, but that we will have tribulation. It’s a fact of life.
Here in America, we have such relative wealth that it sometimes feels like we can buy our way out of most of our troubles. We have products and drugs to reduce the stress. If we work out, eat right, clean the air we breathe and purify the water we drink, we can eliminate many of the negative aspects of this existence. And if we run into a rough spot, everything will be back to normal soon. But then we run into a global encounter such as this current pandemic and we get a strong dose of our mortality and our helplessness against an enemy we can’t see or control.
So much so that the current climate feels a little like tribulation — the tribulation. Streets are relatively empty; people keep their distance; businesses have closed; everyone’s gone home. It’s like we’re waiting for the angel of death to pass over. Sometimes when I’m driving around in my car, it feels like the rapture has already happened and they forgot to take me.
And then you hear the words of Jesus: “In the world you will have tribulation,” and then these great words: “But take courage; I have overcome the world.” Suddenly you realize: the problem is the world. It’s not that a bad thing happened in the world and we’ll be over it soon, but the problem is the world itself, and Jesus has overcome the world. He overcame the world — not just the problem — but the whole world. Jesus is going to destroy this world and build a new one, and in the meantime, we need to stick close to Jesus and His words because He speaks peace to us. He encourages us that we can have peace in Him in the midst of the tribulation that is this world, and we can take courage, because we know that Jesus is ultimately in control. There is nothing that happens outside His watch.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27)
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