Seriously? That’s the command of Christ: just don’t LET yourself be bothered? Tell that to the mother whose child is wheezing with asthma, or the salesman whose job continues or ends based on the next call, or the person behind on a deadline when the computer crashes, or the ministry leader when the checks don’t come in or…. well, you get it – it’s hard to not let our hearts be troubled.
And what the heck! Wasn’t JESUS’ heart troubled?! Wasn’t it Him who had His gut wrenched at the sight of people like lost sheep and pain at the loss of Lazarus and anguish at the thought of the cross? Sweating drops of blood through your pores sounds pretty stressed to me.
Then later in the same chapter, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14).
Do we want peace like THAT – sweating blood and experiencing heartache?
Here’s the problem… we have had so much sound-bite theology, taking a single verse or several “single-verses” out of context that we don’t know Scripture, but we know what we’re taught: We are supposed to pray till we feel okay. Jesus promised His peace which will make us feel all warm and fuzzy in the calamity of our circumstances. This sound-bite theology creates a problem and causes lots of (seemingly) conflicted Scripture with our own thinking.
Here’s the solution… Jesus is with you. Sounds trite, I know, but if you read John 14, you see what the disciples were troubled by is Jesus leaving them. He promises the peace of His PRESENCE in several ways:
1) He’s leaving to go to the Father FOR them, not leaving THEM. Big difference; they aren’t being abandoned, but taken care of. Love is His motive.
2) When He goes, He’s not leaving them alone, but sending “The Helper” who will give the same instruction on Truth and help them remember what He’s already taught. They won’t be alone. His power is still at work with them.
3) He’s coming back! He’s going to make a place with Dad for everyone then coming back for the rest of the fam! He’s bringing about God’s plan for them.
This leaves me with two questions: First, then what’s meant by “My peace I give you”? Second, what’s the turmoil of the cross for Jesus if He has such peace?
His peace is God’s presence. Jesus had peace amidst everything in His un-peaceful life because of the assurance of the power, love, and plan of His Father He knew was at work through Him. Lazarus was going to be okay, the people had been sent a Good Shepherd, all who would receive would have Life… and Jesus was the conveyance of God’s love, power, and redemptive plan in every circumstance.
We want to feel better about a circumstance – feel peace from a problem. Jesus wants us to know peace from His presence.
So the peace He gives is NOT that you’ll never be bothered by anything – that nothing around you will be UN-peaceful. The peace Jesus gives is His presence and the fullness of God’s power, love, and plan at work in your life by grace.
Stormy seas? God’s got that, hang on. Broken heart? God feels that, too, but don’t believe the lie you’re unloved; He loves you. Lost in a pit of despair, not sure which way is up? You are not alone. The Light of the world is in the pit with you, loves you, and has a plan for you that will make this useful in you living from His love and power going forward.
You’re not alone. God’s got this (yes, even THIS!). Times are tough, but Jesus is tougher. He’s got your back. Best thing for you and I is to grow in our Christ-confident hope of His love for us, His power at work toward us, and His plan He is bringing about on our behalf. That’s the “all good” of Romans 8:28-29 – that He uses everything to cause us to live more from His sufficiency by grace.
And the second question of Jesus’ stress before the cross? …Abandonment. He who had lived from eternity past in perfect union with the Father, defined by Their relationship and living from Their love, and living out Their plan; Jesus stressed abandonment… separation …being forsaken.
So you never have to.
He died alone so you would never die, and you will never be alone.
He gave up His Father’s presence so you could share in His union. He took your death so you could walk in His Life. He accepted broken relationship with God so you could fully share in His divine union.
Jesus stressed so you could rest.
His abandonment meant your acceptance. His loss is your gain. His punishment is our redemption. His death meant Life for you and me forever.
So when Jesus says, “Don’t sweat it,” (my interpretation of “Don’t let your heart be troubled”) He means He already has, so you don’t have to.
He is near you. He is with you. He is in you. You are never alone. It is never up to you to accomplish what is necessary, but to be willing for Him to do what only He can do in and through us… in UN-peaceful circumstances.
After all, He gave us His Presence and God’s union so that He might be our Peace.
Walk in the Christ-confident Hope of His love, power, and plan for you and you will increasingly see His Peace as the Fruit of His Presence, and His Grace as the means of experiencing His Abundant Life.