You don’t have to look far to find troubles in our world. They are all around us both locally and globally. John 16:33 even guarantees that we’ll have trouble, promising that “In this world you will have trouble…”
People all around us are concerned about things already happening in our culture, economy and politics, or things that may happen in the future. And rightly so. We should be concerned. We need to keep in mind, however, that concern is very different to worry, and that we should have a righteous concern for the things about which God is concerned.
Concern for Our World
Nehemiah 8:9 says, “This day is holy to the lord your God. Do not mourn or weep. For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.”
The people were crying because they were realizing they hadn’t kept God’s law as they were supposed to. They had turned away from God’s word and his purposes for them and had gone their own way.
In our culture today, we have done the same.
As a culture, we have turned away from God’s word and His will for us and have selfishly taken our own path. Of course, this doesn’t apply to every single individual, just as it didn’t apply to every individual in Nehemiah’s time, but that doesn’t mean we, as a society, can’t weep and mourn for our culture as a whole.
We should be looking around us with God’s perspective. Then we can see the truth—that we’ve left God. This fact should make us mourn and cry so heavily and loudly and with such passion that heaven might hear us and send an answer. The more seriously we take our situation, the more God can use us to help fix it. Let us allow God to break our hearts for what breaks His.
Still, even in the midst of all the troubles we’ve brought on ourselves as a culture, God promises peace.
Let’s take a look at the full verse in John again. John 16:33 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.”
Notice how in the midst of the trouble promised in this verse, Jesus also promises peace with the bold declaration that He has already overcome the world.
God is bigger than anything or anyone in the world. Everything that goes on in this life, God is in control. Nothing people can do here on earth is so significant or powerful that it would derail God from His plan. Yes, we all have free will, and some people use that against God’s will. But God can do anything and fix anything. If his plan doesn’t get done one way, He can get it done another. If one person doesn’t want to be used by God, God can use another person.
God is not limited to the constraints some people would like to put Him in. It’s not as if He’s up in heaven watching us make mistakes, saying: “Hmmm… they really screwed that up. What am I going to do now?” Nothing surprises God because He knows everything; He foresees everything. Nothing we do catches Him off guard, and nothing we do throws Him off His course.
When we worry over the troubles of this world and the chaos that people cause, we’re basically telling God we don’t have faith that He can handle running the world. In a business, if the workers screw up, the boss or manager is expected to fix it, and he or she does. Why then would we not assume God can do the same? Yes, his “business” is much bigger and on a much bigger scale, but He is also a million times more powerful. Let’s not sell our God short of what He is capable.
Jesus is the Way
If focusing on how powerful and capable God is seems difficult or daunting when the troubles of the world seem so close and real to us, we can focus on Jesus and the Spirit living inside us. We have a real-life example of who God is in the life of Jesus. We can look to him and read about his life in the Word. We can see his character, his love, his confidence, and his power when we read about him and learn about him.
We can also focus on the Holy Spirit that lives inside each of us. If the troubles of the world seem close, the Holy Spirit is closer. If we rely on His leading and rest in His comfort, we can get through any challenging time the world throws at us.
Keeping our focus on the Lord as we head forward is crucial for us today. When we’re focused on Him, peace is ours for the taking, no matter what’s going on around us. It’s when we lose our focus on Him and start focusing on the world that we grow anxious and fearful, just as Peter did after stepping out of the boat to walk on water.
Jesus told us: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” If God holds the peace we need and crave, and Jesus is the way to God, then, as Christians, we must hold fast to our relationship with Jesus and keep our focus on him. We must let him lead the way to everlasting peace.