I’m just getting used to the idea that we had New Year’s, and now I realize that today is the 8th already. Wow! The month is nearly a third over. Interestingly enough, some of the troubles that I was experiencing did not go away with the passing of 2018 as I had hoped they would. But, this verse came to mind as I was brushing my teeth this morning.
John 16:33 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.”
Jesus said these things to the disciples as he was preparing them for his departure from this world. Two things stand out. First, we may have peace despite our circumstances. Notice it said “may.” It doesn’t say “will.” It implies choice. Could it also imply that his ability to provide peace might be hit or miss? No, Jesus is defined as peace, is he not?
Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Prince of Peace. If Jesus is peace and he says that in him you may have peace, it seems to me that peace is a choice. It’s there for me if I so choose it. Ultimately, I am Jesus’ and he will return for me. If I die, my spirit will be taken to him (Luke 16:22) and he will come back for my body (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). In any case, Jesus will not forget about me. He can’t. See John 6:39, 10:24, 14:2-3 and 18:9 for just a couple examples of scripture on this.
Until that time, Jesus tells us we will have tribulation. No matter because Jesus encourages us. He says, “Take heart.” This is meant to give us reason for optimism. Optimism? Everywhere we turn is turmoil. Sin is rampant and getting worse. Yes, it is. Even so, we are to take heart. Why? Because this is not our home. Remember what Jesus told Pilate?
John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
What do we make of this? Remember, if Jesus is not of this world, neither are we. He will ensure that we will be with him, forever and ever. Of that we can be certain. We are not trapped in “the world” – that place where we now reside. Yes, we are here today, but we will be with Jesus one day. Considering that we will spend eternity with him, does it really matter how long we are in this world or how miserable it is?
Here’s the deal that is hard for me to remember. My time on this earth is very, very short. Didn’t I just observe that in my opening line? Of course, I did. When I am focused down, on this world, rather that up, on Jesus’ kingdom, my world looks miserable and hopeless. Indeed, it is hopeless. Oh, sure, those of the world can psyche themselves up and be happy in any circumstance, but their end is still hopeless. No, I have hope, great hope, so my focus should be on Jesus, not this world.
So, I take heart. I hold my eyes on Jesus and he gives me peace. His peace. The Prince of Peace gives me his peace. And rest. With him, I can sleep in a boat tossed in a storm. Paul reminds us of all this as well.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comprehension, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Man, I could go on and on this. But, let me leave you with one last bit of encouragement. Jesus tells us that he has not left us alone to wait for him. No, indeed he hasn’t.
John 14:25-26 These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
So, it’s simply a matter of whether or not I will listen so that I may hear. I have the power living within me to change the entire perspective of this rotten world. Don’t misunderstand, I don’t have that power. It’s the Holy Spirit who will lift my head up so that I may focus my eyes on Jesus. If only I will cooperate. Here’s an interesting picture. Do you know how a baby can refuse to be fed? You know how they sit in the high chair with mouth and eyes clamped shut? That’s how I must look when I refuse to be comforted and receive Jesus’ peace. Good grief!
Father, I want to enjoy your peace. Never mind the cares of this world, I want you. Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers