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Finding courage in trouble

“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).

Put yourself in the sandals of the disciples during Holy Week. What emotions would you have felt? What feelings would have reigned in your heart? Would it have been growing anxiety as the glory of Palm Sunday turned into tension and trouble? Perhaps you would have felt the grip of fear as Jesus was arrested and everyone fled. Perhaps you would have tumbled into the deep despair of a world that seemed to have lost its Light. Fear, despair, anxiety, desperation—you or I might have felt any of these. But peace? Serenity? Courage? They seem entirely inappropriate.

So often, the most realistic or relatable part of John 16:33 is the part about trouble: “In this world you will have trouble.” That much we can verify on a daily basis. Far from feeling like we have “overcome the world,” we often feel as though we have lost. Family aspirations can be crushed by accidents or disease. Professional aspirations can lead us to self-destruct (not to mention destroying others). Health can slowly deteriorate or outright abandon us. As we walk this world’s hall of mirrors or stare at our neighbor’s social media highlights, our troubles can just about crush us. You can imagine the emotions that go along with those misfortunes.

As Christians, we know that in this world we will have trouble. And yet, in the most troubling scene of all, we find our victory. We find God in human flesh, troubled before his death. He would, to every human eye, suffer a humiliating defeat. The slander against him would go unchallenged. The death sentence would be handed down. Even on the cross, his enemies would gloat. And yet, on the eve of his suffering, he gave a message of peace to his disciples.

Trouble they had and trouble they would continue to have, but make no mistake, those same disciples would have peace. They would understand what it meant that Jesus was the sacrifice that brought them peace. They would understand what it meant to take courage in troubled times. And they would understand victory as well.

So take heart! Jesus overcame the world and all its daggers and arrows. Whatever disease or terror or suffering you or I go through, Jesus’ message is clear—this world has been defeated.

Find your courage in Jesus’ victory. Find peace in his sacrifice. In this world, you will have trouble, but in Jesus you have peace.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, giver of peace, come into our hearts, strengthen our faith, and increase our hope so that even in trial and trouble we might take heart in Jesus’ victory. Amen.   

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This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series lent 2023

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