John 16:33 “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.”
My wife and I were reading our Bible together the other night and this verse was part of the passage we read. It is a special verse for my wife, so special she has a constant reminder of it on her wrist. There were three things that stood out to us. The first is when the word “may” is used. Reading “you may have peace” makes one pause for a second, will I have it or will I not. The word may is defined as, expressing possibility or permission. Let me put it this way, a parent might say to their child, “you may have a snack after school today.” The child has been given permission for a snack and their is a possibility of the child having a snack but it is dependent upon the child accepting the permission they have been given. They don’t have to have the snack, the choice is totally up to them but the snack is as good as theirs if they choose it. There is peace in Jesus christ that we are given permission to have. It is their waiting for us if we choose to accept it. The problem is often times we don’t. We let the problems of our life and this crazy world keep us from taking the peace that Jesus gives us. His peace is there for us and we have permission for it to be ours. We just need to find it in Jesus.
The second part of this verse, I think we can all agree on is “In this world you will have trouble.” This last year has been a challenge for me. I have dealt with some health trouble. Last summer around the fourth of July, I was having some health issues. I went to the doctor, which I never like to do, and after many different scans, test and a procedure I was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that affects multiple organs in the body, but mostly the lungs and lymph glands. Those are the two that were affected in my case. August rolled around and I was unable to start school. What I thought would be just a couple weeks turned out to be three months. On November 11th I was finally able to return to my classroom and I enjoyed being back where I belonged. Then March rolled around and the virus that changed everything forced us all out of the school and back home. Due to my medications our family spent the next six weeks locked up tight in our house.
Needless to say, it has been a bit of a troubling year. There have been challenges and set backs in other areas of my life as well. Some might say, “it is always something.” Because “in this world you WILL have trouble.” It is a given. Life is a constant move in and out of trouble with some periods of not in between. Thankfully, Jesus uses a very small and powerful word, “but”. Yes you are going to have trouble, yes life is going to be difficult and hard at times, “but”. We often forget the but. We focus on the trouble to much and for to long. Trust me I know. We need to look past the trouble and see what follows the but.
There is good news after the but. Jesus tells us to take heart, I have overcome the world. Take heart isn’t a phrase we use in our everyday vocabulary anymore. So what does it mean? The original greek word “tharseo” means good courage, good cheer, bold. We can be courageous, we can be cheerful, we can be bold even as we face the troubles of the world. In fact we aren’t asked to and it isn’t a suggestion. We are told, “Take heart.” Jesus is telling us what to do, you could even say it is a command. When we face the troubles of this world and life we are to be courageous, cheerful and bold. Probably the last three things we feel like being during those difficult times because our focus is on the problems and on ourselves instead of where it needs to be, on Jesus.
When we focus on Jesus we are focusing on the one who is victorious over this world. To overcome means to conquer or be victorious. That is exactly what Jesus did. Jesus faced all that we face in this world because he came into the world. He didn’t look down from Heaven and tells us, “suck it up buttercup things down there can’t really be that bad.” He experienced the things we experience in life. The Bible tells us that while Jesus was on Earth He was exhausted, angry, disgusted, sorrowful, frustrated, agonized, distressed as well as others. Thankfully though, by living a sinless life and conquering death Jesus overcame all this world could throw at Him. He was victorious.
We are going to have trouble in this life, we know it is true. The question is are we going to receive or reject the peace that is available for us? Are we going to live victorious through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior or are we going to allow this world to keep us feeling down and defeated? I know it isn’t easy. I know it can be extremely difficult BUT I know you can do it when you focus on Jesus and grow closer to and more like Him.