(John 14:1) “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”
I heard a missionary to a country in the Middle East speak this past Sunday. The level of stress his family endures on a daily basis is beyond what most of us could imagine. They struggle for survival in the midst of extreme spiritual darkness. In a country that has deep Biblical roots and all the conveniences of modern society, virtually no one has ever read or seen a Bible. Eight other families left the country after only two years on the field. His family has been there for four years. Peace in the midst of extreme adversity isn’t normal for most people. In Christ we can find supernatural peace.
On the eve of His crucifixion, the Lord Jesus Christ spoke these words in John to the disciples. He knew what was about to come the following day. In fact, two times in the preceding two chapters, the Bible tells us the Lord Himself was “troubled” as He contemplated the betrayal and death that were about to unfold:
(John 12:27) Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.
(John 13:21) When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
The word troubled in this verse comes from the Greek word tarasso which means “to agitate, to take away calmness of mind, to cause inward commotion.” In His humanity, Jesus was disturbed and clearly stressed to think about the disloyalty of a friend (Judas) and the resulting physical and spiritual pain He was to endure. This was the hour of His ultimate earthly purpose.
But even as His thoughts were bothered about these things, His concern and focus were turned away from Himself and towards the disciples. Jesus was concerned about the effect of these things on them! At the end of the preceding chapter the Lord had just predicted the betrayal of Peter. In fact, He knew all of them (except John) would abandon Him within the next 24 hours. Even in the foreknowledge of this, He was still concerned about the trouble in their hearts. This last discourse before the cross was setting the stage for their faithfulness in light of what was to come. Jesus had a supernatural focus and a supernatural peace in the face of adversity and He knew they would need it as well in the coming days.
(John 14:27) Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Paul wrote to the Galatians who were under pressure from those teaching a false gospel. They were bearing the stress of darkness surrounding them even in the church. In the book of Philippians Paul encourages them to bury themselves in prayer as they deal with the anxiety of life. After encouraging them to pray, he tells them
(Philippians 4:7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
You may be going through extreme pressure today just as the missionary family. You may be in a dark corner of this world where very little light is shining. It could be in the deepest jungle or in the middle of a modern city. God knows what you are going through. He felt what you are feeling. His thoughts are turned to you. His peace is there for you. I know it is easier to say this than to actually live it. Renewing your mind is the key. As His thoughts become our thoughts, His focus becomes our focus. As His love becomes our love we begin to turn our attention to the needs of others. We can see beyond our own circumstances and present peril. Then we are able to live with the supernatural peace He had in His darkest hour.
Renewed Thought –Real and lasting peace doesn’t mean we are separated from our circumstances. Real and lasting peace comes as we have the grace to think beyond ourselves and our circumstances.