Peace in the Overcomer
- May 21, 2020
- Jessica Fields
I nearly opened with a rhetorical question: have you ever felt so sad, so angry, so hurt and disappointed that you didn’t think God was powerful enough to fix your problems, or fix the problems of our world?
But then I realized I’d never met a person who could honestly answer no to the question, and I thought perhaps it was fair to assume we’d all be in the same boat.
Life is hard. It is also beautiful and rich and a gift, but boy is it hard too. And I am very quick to beat myself up over being upset. ‘You should be over it’ becomes ‘your friends think you’re annoying and dramatic’ which becomes ‘it’s all in your head, there was never a problem to begin with’.
But that is not what God says! In John 16:33, Jesus 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.”
What does that verse tell us? (1) God speaks to us, through the Word and through the Spirit, (2) We can find our peace in Christ, (3) We will, without question, have trouble in this life, (4) Jesus has overcome the world.
- God speaks to us, through the Word and the Spirit, and (2) We can find our peace in Christ
When I feel anxious, I’m pretty quick to pray and to get into Scripture. That has not always been the case, but I cannot deny the peace I feel as I bring my burden to the Lord or when I hear a dear friend lift things up on my behalf.
Before I sound like I have it all together, let me assure you that anxiety, hurt, and anger rear their ugly heads even as I pray. It’s a cycle: prayer, peace, anxiety, prayer, peace ,anxiety.
But as I was praying and reading this week, I was reminded of Psalm 139:
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.”
As believers, we are never separated from the Spirit. God is, lovingly and eternally, with us. David articulates my response to that well: “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4). But the Lord is mindful of us, and He cares for us, and He meets us in the middle of our burdens.
- We will, without question, have trouble in this life
Bear with me on this one, but I think we should find this portion of John 16:33 comforting. I don’t know about you, but for me, the worst part of feeling low is having someone tell me that I ought not be upset. Having your pain invalidated is the worst.
Jesus isn’t telling his followers to dwell on their pain, but He is acknowledging that it’s going to happen. We’re going to hurt each other and wrong each other. In our lives we’ll play both the part of the wounded one and the bad guy.
As I read Romans 12:9-21 this week, I was confronted and comforted in equal measure. Paul tells the Roman believers to:
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,[g] serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
And if that wasn’t enough of a demand on us, Paul continues:
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[h] Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
How often has our trouble in life from not being honored? How often has our pain come from feeling unwilling to bless those who persecute and hurt us? How often does verse 18 seem like a wild challenge – live peaceably with all??
But verse 19 is a comfort to the soul, and a perfect reminder of the end of John 16:33:
- Jesus has overcome the world.
I was talking to a friend recently, and I told her that sometimes it feels like there are things in life that God cannot or will not fix. And while it’s true that some wrongs are only fully righted on the other side of Heaven, in my questioning I am not challenging the when, but the if.
Is God really big enough to heal all the hurt in this world?
Yes, resoundingly so.
Jesus ends his statement with this: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Very often, I don’t believe that. I look at the world around me, both on the small and large scale, and I question whether God is capable of overcoming everything. I question His ability, and sometimes perhaps even His desire, to fix all the negativity I feel and am surrounded by.
But then I am reminded of the cross.
“Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:4-5)
Before the world began, God chose me. Before I took my first breath, Christ paid the price for my sins. Before I had the power to choose Him, God chose me.
Of course God is big enough, powerful enough, loving enough to heal what is broken in my world. He took on the weight of all of my sin in His death and resurrection, and He did it willingly. He has already, long before I was born and longer still before I have ever been hurt and angry, resolved the greatest problem in my soul. He has made me, a broken sinner, new, holy, and clean. Given the evidence, how can I be anything but confident that Christ has overcome the world?
But even in my fear and doubt, God reigns. In my hurt, God comforts. In my sin, the Sprit convicts. In all things, my God is sovereign.
Given the gift of your salvation, brothers and sisters, take heart in the call and comfort of the end of Romans 12, verse 21:
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”