Finding peace in the midst of trouble, blogcast episode 1
Are you struggling with quarantining, sheltering in place, infection rates, death tolls, and the misery of all the trouble that this pandemic has brought?
Over the past several weeks we have been experiencing an event that probably not one person in this world could have ever foreseen or imagined. It has impacted our lives in ways that are completely unexpected and unpleasant. It’s got us guessing what’s going to happen next, trying to cope with a lifestyle we have never experienced (or even want to), and struggling to figure out how to survive!
We’re hearing a lot of novel phrases centered around this pandemic like ‘self-quarantine,’ ‘social distancing,’ ‘flatten the curve,’ or ‘we’re in this together.’ New directives have been issued such as ‘shelter in place,’ ‘wash your hands,’ ‘don’t touch your face.’ Every day there are new rules: do this, don’t do that. Not that these are cliche or pointless, but often they add to the ‘noise’ around us. The din of social media, conflicting information in the daily news, all the chatter just ratchets up our anxiety and fear.
For most of you, myself included, this may even seem to be a surreal event – something we struggle daily to get our heads around. Each and every one of us has our pain points, the particular thing that is most difficult to adjust to.
For some, it’s trying to keep yourself and family sane and productive in a time when you’re cooped up in the same four walls 24-7. For others, it’s a battle to come up with things to do. Others are worried about how to get food and supplies when you have limited resources or access to stores. Many are concerned, fearful even, about how you are going to pay the bills. Some of you are trying desperately to stay healthy and unexposed. And there are those of you who have become sick or have loved ones who are sick. Some have lost loved ones – right now your pain is an obstacle too enormous to get over, around, or through. Please know that we grieve with you.
Whatever the struggle, however surreal it may seem to others – for you, it is real. It is real trouble, it is real pain, heartache, sorrow, or loss.
Let me ask you:
What do you need right now to replace the clamor? What would give you respite from the anxiety and stress? How do you banish your fears and unlock your peace? What is the thing that will help you take a deep breath, close your eyes, and know that all will be well?
A few years ago when I was working at the hospital, I was making rounds with one of the doctors on a Sunday morning. The doctor would interview each patient to determine their progress and response to treatment so he could adjust his plan of care.
In one room, the doctor listened sympathetically as the patient reported all his ailments and how he was feeling that morning. Then the doctor gave a response that nearly brought me to tears. Placing his hand on the patient’s arm, he quoted Jesus’ words,
“In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”
I was blown away! This doctor was giving his patient reassurance and no doubt reminding himself that no matter how much suffering we as health care workers could either relieve or had no power over, one thing has not changed: Jesus is still in control.
Some bad news and some really good news
In John chapter 16 Jesus gives His disciples an outline of events that are ahead for them and for Himself. There were a lot of scary things; he explained that they would be painfully persecuted, some of them would be killed for His sake, and soon He would no longer physically be with them. In fact, He even says, “I’ve got a lot more things to tell you guys, but I can’t right now because you wouldn’t be able to bear it!” Why on earth would Jesus tell His beloved disciples such things?
But the end of the chapter, verse 33 reveals His intent. He says to them: “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.”
He wanted them to understand that everything wasn’t going to be all hunky-dory. They were not going to live an existence of tranquility and worldly peace. In fact, earlier He had already told them that He was not giving them peace like the world gives. That “peace” is transient and only exists when everything seems to be going well. The peace that only HE can give is the kind that they can place their entire confidence and existence in so that they will not be overwhelmed by the turmoil, chaos, fear, and pain of the world around them. (John 14:27)
Does this mean He wanted them to be Pollyannas, sitting around the campfire wearing rosy glasses and singing Kum Ba Yah? No. He commissioned them to be involved in the grimy, pain-laden world around them. They had a job to do. It would be messy, it would involve loving the unloved, and it would cost them. For some it would cost their lives.
My friends, this is the peace that Jesus gives: the kind that YOU can place your hope in. The kind that will bear you up amid the trouble that is inevitable in your life. You can’t know what tomorrow brings. You can’t even imagine the joy or the sorrow you will face in the coming days or weeks. But know this, Jesus has overcome that world. He is bigger than the trouble that the world brings. He is more powerful than any foe, visible or invisible, that comes your way. He says to you, “Be of good cheer! Rest in Me. Keep your eyes on Me. Place your trust in Me, not in what you see, hear, or experience in the world around you. FEAR NOT, because I have overcome the world.”
Your ears, your eyes, even your mind will deceive you when the world crowds in on you. And right now, in spite of the quarantine and social distancing, the world is crowding in. It’s crowding in with thoughts, fear, and anxiety. But let your heart not be troubled or afraid, because in the midst of whatever your physical conflict, distress, pain or disappointment, Jesus has given you His peace. Take it into your heart and let it bring you rest.
Want to hear this on the blogcast? Go HERE.