Change can happen quickly! In recent days, daily life has been turned upside down and challenged in ways none of us ever expected. Shortages and closures have forced us to realize that we can’t take things for granted. On top of all this, social distancing and isolation can lead to loneliness and anxiety for many people.
As followers of Christ, we are not immune to the effects of living through difficult times, nor are we exempt from dealing with uncertainty. We are not always in control of our future as much as we would like to be. But no matter what challenges this world can throw our way, we can still experience great peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.
In John 16:33, Jesus tells his disciples, “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.”
Other translations render the phrase “take courage” as “be of good cheer,”1 “be of good comfort,”2 or “be encouraged.”3
Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you.” What things? “These things” refers to everything Jesus had just shared with his disciples as recorded in John 14, 15, and 16. These chapters, plus his wonderful prayer offered up in John 17, were his final words spoken before his death on the last evening he spent with his closest followers – men whom he had worked with intimately the past many months.
If you were with a loved one who was about to die, and he or she wanted to share one final word with you, you would want to listen very carefully. You’d remember what he or she said. Those words would carry extra weight because of the finality of the situation. So, too, Christ’s final recorded words should bear extra significance to us, his followers.
So, what was Jesus sharing with his disciples that evening? He had just finished assuring them that he would not leave them alone, abandoned like orphans, that he would come to them, that he and his Father would make their home in them. He assured them that if they believed in him, they would do great works. Jesus promised that if they stayed connected to him, their lives would bear much fruit. He had just told them that he would soon send the holy spirit to teach them, that the spirit would lead them and guide them into all truth. And repeatedly, Jesus had assured his disciples that he and his heavenly Father loved them.
Here’s a suggestion: take the time to slowly read through John 14, 15, and 16, and meditate on what our Lord is saying. Then, read his prayer for us in John 17. You will see that, yes, in him we really can have peace.
Jesus said, “In Me, you may have peace….” Peace comes when we are “in him.” When we are in close fellowship with Christ, there’s little room for anxiety, worry, or fear. In the midst of tribulation, genuine peace doesn’t come from how much we think we know or from our perceived ability to “handle the situation.” It doesn’t come just from reciting a statement of beliefs or by subscribing to a certain set of doctrines. Beliefs and doctrine are important, yes, but the one who gives us lasting peace is Christ.
John 14:27. “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.”
Jesus said he would give us his peace! Was there ever anyone else on this planet who had more peace on the inside than Jesus? He stayed calm while surrounded by a mob of angry Pharisees grilling him and accusing the woman taken in adultery. He quietly answered her accusers with just the right words that convicted their hearts and set the woman free. He was able to fall asleep in the back of a small fishing boat in the midst of a seething tempest! Jesus, who calmed the raging seas with just a few spoken words, can also quiet the storms in our lives.
Inner peace in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty doesn’t come so much from what we do, as it does from where we are. Are we “in him?”
Yes, life can change, situations can change, and the whole world around us can change – very quickly sometimes. Yet, Jesus Christ does not change.
Hebrews 13:8. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
His words are just as real and living to us today as they were on the day he spoke them.
This world may take away many things from our lives, but it can never take away Christ. No matter what we gain or lose, Jesus abides within us always. When we are in communion with Christ, obeying his words, and following him where he leads us, we will have all the peace we need to face whatever tomorrow
1New King James Version
3Common English Bible