“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33b (NIV)
Few people seem at peace. Trouble and tumult run rough shod over countless souls wearied by the world. Yet even when Jesus knew his disciples were not up to the task of hanging beside Him on a cross, he still encouraged them. “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet, I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.” (John 16:32-33a)
Every believer has left Jesus at some time. Often it is when He challenges us to see Him for who He truly is, to acknowledge His Lordship and submit our inner selves more completely to Him. Other times it is when we know what He expects us to actually do and we recoil from such difficult demands. When this happens to us, and it will happen again, we need to remember Jesus’ instruction: Take heart! Not because we will overcome our limited faith and infectious unrighteousness, but that He has already overcome the world, which also includes our present insufficiencies.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) Jesus says he gives differently than we do. He means He gives fully, permanently, truly. He gives us His peace. He does not give us our peace. Our peace is no peace at all. His peace calms the troubled heart, stills the might storm and instills courage in timid souls. Past believers sought His peace in the midst of being fed to lions for refusing to renounce King Jesus. There was trouble in their world. They did not run from it. They did not form a political action committee to counter it or wage war against it. They allowed Jesus to do what only He can: overcome.
There is nothing we face that Jesus cannot overcome. But we must want peace before we experience it. We must stop hiding from the Savior’s strong demands before we can truly know His peace. Don’t be afraid. When the disciples returned to the resurrected Christ He did not chastise them for running away. He welcomed them back, knowing they were stronger than when they left.