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My last post was an example of me taking my own advice, using the pause in life that the corona virus has brought to take some extra time getting to know God better.  I realize this a pretty big subject, thankfully He is more than big enough to supply us in this way!  Today I’m reflecting on another fairly familiar verse, John 16:33, where Jesus says, “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 NIV)

The New Testament records many promises Jesus made to His followers.  These are promises that were fulfilled in many ways then, as they still are to us all these years later.  I find great comfort when, for example Jesus said, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20) There is no social distancing need when it comes to Jesus, He is always with us, even when it’s just Betsy and me here.  He reminds us again at the end of the Great Commission, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b)

Here’s another that brings the heart of the Lord and God the Father to the forefront of my day, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.  He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14:21)

I find these promises so encouraging and there are many more I could share with you.  Yet the promise I noted at the top, at least on the surface, doesn’t sound all that comforting at all.  Usually I’d rather not be pondering the fact that Jesus assured His followers that in this world we would have trouble.  For me, it was (and is) a call to put the rose-colored glasses away so that I can better surmise what is going on around me.

Like I shared last time, I have done a little more digging into this verse and have uncovered some things that I hope you can appreciate.  I know they have helped me already.

Let’s start with the word world that Jesus used. Throughout the majority of the New Testament, the Greek word for world used is kosmos.  Now that’s a word most of us are familiar with.  The nugget I uncovered today is that in John’s gospel, this word as Jesus used it carried along with it another meaning.  Strong’s Strongest Concordance defines it this way: The world is a system opposed to God.

That grabbed my attention.  It brought to mind the lessons of the Book of Genesis, when the sin of Adam and Eve put the current world order in place; an order that most certainly seems opposed to God when we consider all that is happening around the globe with the current pandemic.  The world, the bible teaches, is in a state of defiance toward God.  The news before Corona gave evidence to this, and definitely can be seen with all that is now going on.

Jesus said that we were going to have trouble in this already messed-up world.  The word translated as trouble in this verse is what we would use it for today, distress and tribulation.  Plenty of that going around, no need to expand on it here.

Where I would direct you to, Faithful Reader, is to the awesome promise of peace Jesus talked about in this same verse.  The word Jesus used here for peace is the same word He used when expressing this idea in all four of the Gospel’s.  This peace He offers carried the meaning of tranquility and safety. The believer in Jesus is offered this simply because He gives it, freely, to all.

Having tranquility and safety in Jesus seems enough to satisfy, but blessedly He is offering even more when He promises we can have this peace in Him.  In this verse, Jesus is also revealing that in this peace comes a strengthening of the relationship with Him.  As best as I can interpret it, this peace also carries with it the assurance that there is no strife in the relationship.  Here we find another wonderful assurance from our Savior; the relationship He establishes with every believer is in total accordance with how He would have it.  It is a perfect peace, form a perfect God, offered to imperfect folks living in a fallen world.

I for one am more grateful than ever that the Word of God is still bringing comfort as it provides insights into our day to day existence.  John 16:33 is helping me to see more clearly that the events of today, as unsettling and sad as they are, are not a new item that God was not prepared for.  Rather, the often-catastrophic occurrences in this world are a result of the world being what it is; out of sync with the God who made it.  But more than this, comes the true comfort that God cares for each of us in the midst of our struggle and chaos, offering a peace beyond compare.  May you know this peace in new and deeper ways today.

Blessings to all and stay safe,

Pastor Chuck

 

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