Summary: In the midst of all our worries and fears, how can we calm our troubled hearts?
“Setting Troubled Hearts at Rest: The Key to Peace”
It’s time to take a little inventory. I’m going to ask you several questions. For each question answer, silently, whether your response is NEVER, SELDOM, FREQUENTLY, OR CONSISTENTLY. Here we go.
First question: ARE YOU TROUBLED BY THE EVENTS, PEOPLE, OR CIRCUMSTANCES IN YOUR LIFE? (Do events happen that upset you, that you cannot get out of your mind, and that keep you from experiencing peace? Are there people who make you angry or cause you pain, or frustrate you? Do you remain calm in the face of the unexpected or the unexplainable? Do you harbor anger, jealousy, or envy? Are you free from conflict between what you want and what you sense God wants? Do have trouble wiping out the memories of past failures or sins?) Never, seldom, frequently, or consistently?
Second question: ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT THE EVENTS, PEOPLE, OR CIRCUMSTANCES IN YOUR LIFE? (Are you strained by stress, agitation, nervousness? Are you free from tension, churning stomach, tight muscles, or high blood pressure? Do you have a sense of calm? Do you have trouble sleeping at night? Do you spend a lot of time thinking about situations you cannot control or fix?) Never, seldom, frequently, or consistently?
Third question: ARE YOU FEARFUL BECAUSE OF THE EVENTS, PEOPLE OR CIRCUMSTANCES IN YOUR LIFE? (Do your thoughts lead to negative thinking or fear-filled words or concerns? Do your thoughts about the possibilities of what might happen cause you to be over-protective or to spend an inordinate amount of time distressing? Are your relationships with others ruined by these thoughts? Are you hesitant to try new things, to step out in faith in some new venture, or to pray fervently for your desires? Do you have trouble making decisions or commitments?) Never, seldom, frequently, or consistently?
Fourth question: IS YOUR HEART AT PEACE? Never, seldom, frequently, or consistently?
My hunch is that most of us could not say ‘Never’ very often, if at all. More than likely, few answered ‘seldom’ very often. The most common answer among us was ‘frequently’ or ‘consistently.’ We are, if we’re honest, prone to being troubled, worried, and fearful. And we’re not alone. It’s common for us humans. Just look at the disciples of Jesus. Jesus did not have to take an inventory – He knew their hearts.
THE DISCIPLES WERE TROUBLED. It was a critical time for them and for Jesus. CONSIDER THEIR SITUATION. John, in writing his Gospel, very dramatically set up this night – Jesus’ final night with His disciples before His death. The first chapter of John’s Gospel introduces Jesus. Chapters 2 – 12:19 show Jesus’ ministry and share His teachings. Then, in 12:20 everything changes. When some Greeks request to see Jesus He recognizes that it is time to focus explicitly on the cross. (21-28) “Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives…Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father, bring glory to your name.”” From that moment on opposition to Jesus intensified. So on the night of the Passover Celebration Jesus got together with His disciples to prepare them for what was coming. Chapter 13 is filled with doom and gloom. Jesus made some disturbing, serious predictions. He said one of their tightly knit band would betray him; He repeatedly stated He’d be killed; He even predicted that strong, loyal Peter would deny Him – not once but three times! Since they had come to value Jesus’ words and truthful nature, the disciples were disturbed. Whatever Jesus meant, they knew the hours ahead would be difficult and rough, especially if they had to endure them without Jesus, their Master and Friend. Still, little did they realize the full scope of the immediate future – that their lives would totally collapse and their hopes be completely dashed.
Certainly THE DISCIPLES HAD REASON TO BE TROUBLED. The combination of fear, failure, discouragement, despair, loneliness, and abandonment is lethal. From our perspective they had every right to be agitated. Think of a washing machine. There’s that post in the middle that jerks back and forth, stirring up the clothes and the water. What’s it called? That’s right – an agitator. The emotions of this night with Jesus were the agitator that was stirring up their hearts. And they couldn’t understand it, let alone control it. They felt impotent to do anything. This dear man, Jesus, whom they believed was the Messiah, upon whom they had pinned their hopes and for whom they had left everything, was saying “good-bye.”