John 16: 33. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
Death. Illness. Murder. Racism. Riots. Injustice. Bills. Work stress. Depression. Worry. Chronic pain. Lost love. Lost job. Lost keys. Parenting. Car problems. House problems. Temptation. Disagreement. Disappointment. Natural disaster.
In the world you will have tribulation.
I don’t know about you, but I am grateful for these blunt but honest words from our Savior. Jesus is making sure we understand the reality of the world that we live in. To be sure there is no prosperity gospel in Christ’s gospel. No avoiding trouble by faith. No name it and claim it. No secret mantra for escape. In short, Jesus (the one walking towards the cross) offers us no way to escape tribulation. It’s inevitable. It’s real. And it’s crouching at the door.
But why? What causes all this tribulation? His answer? Trouble comes both from where we live and from who we are.
Where we live – The world. It was created by God, is loved by God, and will one day be renewed by God. But for now it is anti-God, anti-Christ, and anti-peace. It is pro-darkness, pro-death, and pro-devil. It is the graceless system of achievement that promises peace through performance and control, but only produces anxiety, desperation, and ultimately death.
Which of us hasn’t been crushed within the tribulation of this world’s system? Who among us hasn’t been squeezed by the outside forces that demand our perfection while stealing our hope, peace, and joy? The systemic injustice that pushes us down or that we use to push others down? A race run without a finish line? No peace for losers to be sure. And no lasting peace for winners, because there actually are none.
Who we are – If the world fails to offer peace, surely we can find it from within. From our own internal goodness. But look at what Jesus had said to the disciples in just the previous verse.
John 16:32. Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.
Here’s what he’s saying – You will all run away. You will all abandon me in my time of need. You will all fail. You are all “losers.”
And which of us hasn’t done the same to Jesus? Left him alone? Run home rather than stay with him? Completely failed him? There’s no self-help in us. No believe in yourself. No digging deep for inner peace.
The tribulation Jesus spoke of is both outside of us and inside of us. We can’t look to the systems of this world for peace, and we can’t look inside our own hearts for peace. Both only bring more trouble. So where do we turn for peace?
In me you may have peace – Jesus offers us peace in spite of all our massive failures. A shalom that is completely disconnected from our performance. We may run and hide. We may abandon and forsake. We may curl up in fear and guilt. And yet Jesus enters us with a peace so deep, so rich, so satisfying, a peace that can never be taken away. A peace in him. In his performance. His success. His victory. His life. Not ours.
And at the same time, Jesus offers us a peace that the world around us can never take away. A shalom that is present in any situation. A paradoxical flourishing within tribulation. A peace the doesn’t come as troubles disappear, but that comes as we enter the trouble.
How is this possible? Because Jesus has overcome the world! The whole system of works righteousness, of performance, of ladder climbing, of success and failure – it’s all conquered by the cross. Nothing can condemn you now. Nothing can prevent your sharing with Christ in his victory. As he has overcome so have we by our faith.
1 John 5:4. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
“To live is Christ” means our lives are joined to the conquering, victorious, Savior-King of our souls. Jesus is exactly what we need. He’s not a boost to get us over the hump. He’s our overcomer! Which means winning only comes when we first admit that we are losers. Victory only comes when we are overcome by his grace. And conquering is only by a cross.
Have you been your own source of peace?
You in Christ
In Christ your life is joined to the conquering savior. How can that bring you peace today?
Christ in you
Where do you need to trust Christ’s victory today?
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