Our journey through life can oscillate between two extremes. At times we may seem to be chasing an imaginary “happily ever after” existence that seems to disappear just when we’ve achieved what we thought would make us happy. If we continue to be discouraged then we may feel consigned to live a ho-hum, drab, meaningless existence. What advice did Jesus give to His disciples concerning our attitude toward life?
Approximately half of the Gospel of John (John 12-20) focuses on the last week of Jesus, and nearly a third of the Gospel (John 13-19) is dedicated to one day. The disciples would soon be facing some challenges they had not anticipated and Jesus is preparing them for their new reality. Jesus is teaching us that you can experience peace in spite of your circumstances. Why is this an important message? This is important because if you’re not currently experiencing any trouble, you will. The book of Job tells us that man is born for trouble as the sparks fly upward. Troubles are inevitable but suffering is optional. Let’s look at Jesus’ closing words to His disciples in John 16.
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)
Jesus presents three truths that will help you to experience peace in the midst of your circumstances. First, you must realize that in Christ you may have peace. What does it mean to be in Christ? To be in Christ denotes our legal position (this is how God sees me) whereas Christ in me is experiential. Recognizing our position in Christ and claiming it by faith leads to realizing our true condition. The result is an appropriation of Christ’s peace in our lives. Do you have a peace that surpasses all understanding?
Peace is something everyone wants, yet few seem to find. The word “peace” occurs over 300 times in our English Bible depending upon the translation that is used. The English word for “peace” does not capture the essence of the Hebrew concept of peace. The Hebrew word shalom conveys the idea of completeness, soundness, safety, welfare, peace, quietness, tranquility, and contentment. Shalom is not simply the absence of conflict but it is the presence of well-being. You must realize that the presence of trouble in your life does not mean the absence of God.
A primary reason that you may not be experiencing peace is because you don’t realize you are in Christ. Peace is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. If the Spirit of God is ruling our lives, we will experience His peace. If you unable to find peace from God, it is useless to seek it elsewhere. Dante reminds us, “In His will is our peace.”
You must also recognize that in the world you will have trouble. The typical view of the Christian life is that it means being delivered from all adversity, God actually delivers us in adversity, which is something very different. We face a multitude of troubles in this life. When we recognize that in this world we will have trouble, then we can accept that truth rather than be anxious about the troubles we face. Difficulties cause us to call forth our courage and our wisdom and it is through the pain of confronting and resolving difficulties that we grow.
Finally, you must respond by taking courage or taking heart. We can take courage because Jesus has overcome the world. This word is used seven times in the New Testament, always by Jesus, and always in the imperative. As you encounter difficulties in life, it can be easy to lose heart. Jesus is our ultimate example. Jesus willingly gave His life for you and for me and He never lost heart. The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us,
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:3)
Associate Pastor – Discipleship. The Church at LifePark
Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University
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