Summary: Jesus turns trouble into triumph.
You know how it is when you hear a song for the first time? You know, a song that really grabs you? The first time I ever heard “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” I was in seminary. I wasn’t married, so I was living in the men’s dorm. I recall that it was a spring afternoon. Outside, the skies were blue and the day was sunny, but inside, in the deepest part of me, it was like a dreary, overcast day. I felt like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. I was coming home after a day of classes, and I was defeated. I was about as low as you could get. I was behind in my studies. I was a long way from home. And I wasn’t sure I was going to have the money to finish the semester, much less get through seminary.
When I reached the dorm, I was walking toward my room, when I heard music coming from an adjacent hallway. It was Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and, as I said, I had never heard it before. I turned toward the music. It was coming from the room of a student I didn’t know very well. His door was open. So, I asked if he would mind if I stood there and just listened. He said, Sure. So that’s what I did. I just listened. There was something magnetic about the song. I don’t know: Was it the melody? The harmony of the voices, maybe? Was it the serene quality about it? There was definitely a comforting aspect to it. But more than anything, I think, it was the lyrics.
When you’re weary, feelin’ small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all.
I’m on your side. When times get rough
And friends just can’t be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water,
I will lay me down.
Now, I’ve got to tell you: those words got inside me. I was weary, and I was feeling small – really insignificant. And I wondered: would anyone really lay themselves down for me? Would anyone put themselves out so that I could get myself together?
You know what I’m talking about. You’ve felt these same things. You’ve been worried. You’ve felt insecure. You’ve wondered how you were ever going to make it. You may even be feeling that way now.
If you are, then what Jesus says here in the Bible is just for you. “Let not your hearts be troubled.” That’s what he says, and he’s saying that to you. Now, listen. This is not a command. Jesus isn’t just giving you orders. “You quit being troubled, now; you hear?” That’s not what he’s doing. What he is doing is: he’s comforting you. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me.” In other words, trust me with your troubles.
That’s what he’s saying. And then what he does is: He gives you some reasons that you can trust him. When you’re heart is troubled, he tells you three things you need to know. First, he is going to get you to a safe place. Second, he’s going to stay with you. And, third, he’s going to turn your troubles into triumph.
Let’s look at each of those three promises. First, when you’re troubled, remember: Jesus is going to get you to a safe place. Just look at the first few verses here of John, chapter 14. Jesus uses some form of the word place three times. Three times in three verses: “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” he says. “Believe in God, believe also in me.” That is, “Trust me.” Why? He tells us: “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.” You see: There it is, first instance of the word place. He goes on: “If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” There it is again. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself.”
How important is it, when you’re beset with trouble all around – how important is it to have a place, a safe place, a place of refuge? When I was in my early teens, I was with my mom in a car out on a country road. My mom was driving, and we were trying to find my dad, who was with some friends out in a place we had never been before. We drove for a long time and cut back more than once. My mom stopped at a crossroads and looked in every direction. She didn’t want to tell me, but she was lost. She didn’t know where we were, and I sure didn’t! It was getting dark, and I was getting scared. I remember that my arms and legs began to shake involuntarily. What I wanted most in that moment was to be back at my own house, in my own room, with my own bed, and all the familiar surroundings of home. I wanted to be in a safe place.