“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).
I read a sermon by Mark Dever recently in which he recounted a situation that occurred in the life of the famous 18th century preacher Jonathan Edwards. Having led his church in Massachusetts through a time of great revival Edwards was suddenly dismissed from the church over a theological disagreement. We can readily imagine the grief and sadness this must have caused in his life.
Some of you reading this will empathize even more deeply having been through a similar experience of losing a job. Or it might be some other kind of loss … the loss of a spouse to death or divorce, the loss of trusted friend, or the loss of huge chunk of your savings. It’s these kinds of losses that have the potential of shaking the foundation of our very lives.
Jesus knew this when He braced His disciples with the words, “In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33). An evitable part of life is the trouble that comes to us from just about every angle we can imagine. The word Jesus uses for “trouble” means the pressure and pain that result from various kinds of suffering or persecution. This happens to us in the “world,” or in this current order of things.
But Jesus only said that after He had assured them that, “in me you may have peace.” So Jesus is saying that trouble in the world is inevitable, but in the midst of that His peace is available. The peace that Jesus offers is possible when we listen to His voice … “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.”
Jesus goes on to challenge His disciples to face their troubles in this way: “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” In essence Jesus tells them, “Be courageous. Boldly face what you have to face, knowing that I am victorious over the current order of things.” So the peace that sustained Jesus in His persecution and sufferings is the same peace that is available to us.
Just how deep does this peace go? For Jesus it went deeper than any blows that this world’s troubles could inflict upon Him. And that same peace is available to us through Christ. No matter how deeply we are cut by the wounds of this world, the peace of Christ is deeper still.
Jonathan Edwards knew this peace as he went through the suffering of being fired from his church. An eye-witness observed Edwards’ response when he was informed by the church council of their action. The observer said, “That faithful witness received the shock, unshaken. I never saw the least symptom of displeasure in his countenance the whole week, but he appeared like a man of God, whose happiness was out of the reach of his enemies.” I reckon that the “happiness” the observer mentions is actually the peace about which Jesus spoke.
So how about you? What happens when the troubles of this world land their crushing blows? Is the peace of Jesus running so deeply in your life that it is out of reach of the troubles of this world?