Relative Peace: Wrestling Down Anxiety
John 16:32b-33 “... I am not alone, for my Father is with me. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.””
Jesus says these words to his disciples shortly before his crucifixion. He's been hinting at this death for years. Now that it's getting close, the disciples are getting rattled, though they still don't fully grasp what's about to happen and why it must be this way. When you break it down there are four core concepts here:
* Jesus wants them, and us, to have peace.
* Jesus wants us to know we are going to have trouble in this world.
* Jesus wants us to take courage.
* Jesus wants to remember he has overcome the world.
Let's look at the corollaries of these.
* Whenever we are not experiencing peace, we have stepped out of what Christ desires for us.
* When we expect a trouble-free life, we are not embracing reality.
* When we don't take heart, we are rejecting Christ's promises and power.
* When we don't believe Jesus is victorious over all things, we drift towards despair.
According to Jesus then, peace is not the absence of trouble. It's not something that magically materializes when all my problems go away. If Jesus wants us to have peace and knows that we'll have trouble, he must believe that they can exist simultaneously. He's right, of course.
I've had seasons in my life where I didn't have any major crises, but still felt inwardly tense, torn and conflicted. Conversely, I've had moments where a storm was tearing the roof off my life and felt strangely calm. At the risk of sounding horribly trite, I honestly believe the difference was spiritual perspective.
I saw a picture of Christ on the cross today that I'd never seen before. Beneath the cross, there was a skull. Now it might just be a reference to the location of the Christ's death, Golgotha (which means "Place of the Skull.") But it might be a reminder that, on the cross, Christ defeats every enemy of His and ours, including death.
This doesn't mean I won't ever face death; it does mean that Jesus is bigger than, greater than and ultimately, the champion over death. And if this is true, I don't have to fear death, or anything else. Jesus has overcome it. Take pause to recall whatever it is that's keeping you up at night these days. And then say this "Jesus, you have overcome this ___________. And you want to give me peace about it. Grant me the grace to take heart and step out of anxiety into action one single step at a time."