Summary: Shows the importance of trusting in God to get through uncertain and troubled times. Also shows the specific reasons and ways we can trust in God.
Peace in Troubled Times
The times we are living in are very troublesome times. Just in the last year, our whole circumstance has changed. Last year, we were relatively secure. And the economy was still going strong. Then after September 11, it all changed. We headed into a recession, and worse we no longer felt safe in our own homes. And still there is great trouble in the Middle East, and the U.S. is finding that more and more Europe is turning against us. We’re told that further terrorist attacks are inevitable. Nothing is certain anymore.
On top of all that, our own individual problems have not gone away. For some of us, right now may be a great time personally. But others may be going through a very uncertain and difficult time.
Jesus disciples also encountered just such a time in their lives. They had all come from various walks of life before they met Jesus. Maybe for some of them, life was good, and for others life was bad. But for the past three-and-a-half years that had been with Jesus and life had been good. They had seen countless miracles, healings, deliverances, walking on water, calming the storm, feeding the 5,000, and even raising the dead. They had spent the past years listening to the greatest teachings ever spoken. Further, because they expected that Jesus would literally overthrow the Roman government and set up his kingdom in Jerusalem, they were excited because Jesus had gained popularity and they were on the inside of the movement. I’m not saying that everything was perfect for the disciples, but by-and-large life was going good for them. They had no reason to expect that in the very near future all of their expectations and hopes would fall apart. They had no idea of the crisis they were about to be put through, that Jesus would be arrested, beaten, tried, and crucified.
However, Jesus knew what was about to take place, and he wanted to prepare them for what was ahead. So, he explained to them what was about to happen. Previously he had made references to his death, but in a way that they could not understand. Now, he wanted them to really understand what he was saying, so he spoke clearly with them. And this conversation that Jesus had with them prepared them better to accept the changes and the uncertainty that was about to come upon them.
Now, none of us likes change. None of us likes uncertainty. We’re always going to have a certain level of worry when we know that hard times are ahead of us. However, we can by examining Jesus’ discourse with the disciples, learn how to get through those times without worrying.
John 14:1-4, “1 "Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. 2 There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know where I am going and how to get there.”
Now, Jesus knowing the future which lay before his disciples, gave them encouragement to get them through. And the first thing he says to them is “You trust in God, now trust in me.” And this is really the foundation for finding peace to get through these tough times. All of the other things that he said to them were hinged upon this one secret. TRUST IN HIM. He goes on to explain some of the reasons and the ways that they can trust in him, but he never really moves beyond trust as the thing that will get them through.
Philippians 4:6,7 “6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
This verse tells us not to worry about anything, but to pray. And I find the focus here interesting. It doesn’t say that if you don’t worry but pray, God will instantly change all of your circumstances so there’s nothing left to worry about. That’s not trust. That’s faith. And faith is necessary. Sometimes God does want to miraculously change your circumstances. But if that’s how it was every time, then when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, then God would have said, “Okay, I’ll make another way. You don’t have to go to the cross.” But as we know, that isn’t what happened at all. There was no change in Jesus’ circumstances because of that prayer, and yet that prayer wasn’t wasted or a failure. Instead, I believe it was in that prayer that Jesus found the strength to do what was necessary – to go to the cross. It was his Trust in God that led him to pray, “your will be done.” And it was this trust that gave him peace.