“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
When I was four, I sang a song for a talent show in my hometown. I won first place and then went on to sing at the county and state fairs. Being four years old, the stage was a nerve racking place because there were more and more people as I advanced in the competition. The time at the state fair was completely overwhelming. There were so many people watching me. Before I made my way onto the stage that day, my dad told me where he would be standing in the crowd of people. He told me to look right at him and sing to him. I said okay and was fine until it was my turn and my name was announced. I felt the nerves kick in even more as I approached the microphone. I looked out into the crowd where my dad said he would be and he was right there. I started singing my song and for a moment it was just my dad and I. Then I took my eyes off of my dad. I got distracted by the thousands of people who were watching me. I got scared, nervous, and I lost sight of my dad. I started to panic and cry in the middle of my song. But then, the moment I spotted my dad again, this sense of peace and utter joy came flowing over me and all I could do was laugh because I knew my dad would never leave me even when I was scared or felt alone.
There are times of need, trouble, hardships, fear, and pain where we cannot see what is going to happen next or how we are ever going to get out of the storm. Looking at the world around me, I see the fear, struggle, and hardships which have taken over the news, internet, and our lives. When we look at John 16:33, we can agree because we don’t just see trouble around us, we have personally experienced trouble ourselves. It can be hard to look at this verse and not question it. Particularly the part which says, “You may have peace.” What?! Peace?! I think it is rare for us to see trouble and experience any sort of peace.
To better understand how to experience peace in the midst of trouble, I think it is important to take a moment, step back, and look at the rest of John 16. It comes as Jesus concludes a time of teaching through the use of parables in chapter 15 and marks a shift from figurative language to speaking in a more straightforward manner in chapter 16. Jesus is preparing his disciples for the trouble which is ahead. As Jesus speaks to them in plain terms, the feel a sense security because they clearly understand what Jesus is telling them.
Aren’t we just like the disciples? We believe that if God would explain why we are going through hardships, then we will feel secure. We want to find our peace through knowledge, not trust. But Jesus is very careful to point out that this kind of peace is very insecure indeed.
“A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” John 16:32
It is like Jesus is saying, “You say you know who I am. You say you understand I came from God and I know all things. Do you know that in a short time you will be so confused and so uncertain of what is happening you will run away and leave me alone? Rather than trust me to work things out, you’ll forsake me and not want to be identified with me. But….”
What if we were like Jesus and could claim our peace is based not on what happens, or even on our understanding of what happens, but on a trust in the One who controls what happens?
In this world, you are going to have trouble; trouble at work, trouble at school, trouble at home, trouble in your family. You will have trouble, because that is the way of this fallen world. But take heart. I have overcome the world.
What an encouraging reminder! I have gone through times of personal stress, struggle, uncertainty, and a lack of understanding, not knowing what God was planning and thinking He wasn’t even there. And yet, as I read John 16:33, I am encouraged. There is peace to be found. Jesus is saying the peace He offers rests not in the circumstances, nor in the understanding, but in the confidence of the One guiding everything having overcome it all and is with me always.
And yes, He sees you right smack dab in the middle of your storm. Will you allow Him to take control and lead you to safety? Will you allow him to be the eye of your storm, where it is calm and peaceful amidst the chaos?
My dad was there for me on the State Fair stage. He never left me. Even though, I was distracted and stopped focusing on him, he never left because he loves me. God is the same way. God tells us that while we live in a dark, sinful, and painful world, we can trust He will be there walking through life with us, cheering us on, helping us through it, and guiding us along the journey.
Rejoice by choice! Don’t look at your circumstances, but have confidence in the One who is with you.
Our summer staff has put this verse to music and added actions. Click the video below for their help in memorizing John 16:33!
Think about a hard time in your life. What happened at the end which made it not be a storm anymore? How was God working in the midst of your storm? Choose words which would describe the storm. Write them down and let them be a reminder of how God is with you through the storms of life.
While God is with you in the storms of life, who else can walk with you? Pray for and with you? Connect with them this week and let them know their presence in your life is appreciated. Consider how you can walk alongside others in the midst of their storms.
Reflect on the words to the song “Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson.
Our guest author this week is Kristin Rienhardt who serves on the YMT Team and as the Day Camp Coordinator for IOLBC!