“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.” John 16:33
How was your week? Was it going well until you read the news headlines that pointed out the many troubles of this world? Were you worried about the cat and mouse game played by two superpowers playing, “intercepting aircraft”? Did a leader’s threats to economically punish an already economical unstable country cause you to wonder, “Will we be next”? Did you have to speak to your child or grandchild about being rude to their friends only to read, that some world leaders thrive on this behaviour? It is very possible that this week you had wondered, “could the world get any worse?”.
In the Gospel of John, chapter 16, we can find the conversation Jesus had with his disciple concerning the future. He knew that within a few days he would be arrested and crucified and wanted to forewarn and prepare them for that event. He told them things would get worse and so, be prepared. Those listening could not help but wonder, “how could it get worse”? They were already living in troubled times under Roman occupation. There were groups trying to overthrow or disrupt the Romans who retaliated in a brutal fashion and no Jew was exempt from their wrath. All knew of the areas in the region where you could walk roads lined with their countrymen hanging from crosses. They were heavily taxed, and economic relief was only a dream. People worked long days without getting ahead and if they dared venture out at night, there were bandits waiting to beat and rob them. As the disciples listened to Jesus suggesting it will get even worse, it must have been difficult to imagine as they already thought life was as bad as it could get.
Many woke today feeling that the world is rapidly spinning out of control and we are helpless to do anything about it but try to survive. It is easy to give up, hide and fear the world we live in. But Jesus said He came not to condemn us or judge us but give us life to the full. He said He can make it better no matter what is happening around us. When he told his disciples about the troubling changes He also offered them hope. The hope that He will keep His promises, including sending a comforter to help us overcome the anxiety and anger associated with the ugliness of the world. The hope that Jesus offers us peace when we gather on Sunday mornings and sing songs that praise Him and when we sit broken hearted by the bedside of an ill relative. He encourages us to accept His offer and to share that hope with others by telling them about our story with Jesus.
The Apostle Paul tells us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. Philippian 4:6-7.
Jesus ended His conversation that night in prayer. He prayed for the events about to unfold in His life. He prayed for the future of the disciples and He prayed for us, those who will believe without seeing. He clearly sent a message that there is power and comfort in prayer and when we are facing our troubles, we should settle ourselves in prayer.
Despite the trouble people encountered during Jesus’ life, they still found comfort in worshipping God and participating in temple life. That is where our comfort lies, gathering together to worship God, being in fellowship with other believers, taking time to acknowledge God each day and spending time in prayer for each other. Don’t let the troubles of this world rule you but let the Saviour of the world comfort you.