America is going through a lot. You're going through a lot.
Just with Covid-19 alone... Wearing masks. Fear mongering. The fear of dying, or a loved one dying. Government lockdowns. Closed economy. Closed schools, gyms, restaurants. No graduations, birthday parties, sports...
Let alone the nation's deep issues with racism, over the police, America's past, America's future. Such nasty politics. Hateful politics. Cable news is toxic. Facebook is getting meaner. Cities are on fire. O and a presidential election is coming up in four months.
Plus we all have our own personal stressors.
Where do we find peace through this? How do we not be anxious or frightened or depressed?!
In John 14, Jesus is preparing His followers for His death—not theirs. He's about to be unfairly arrested, brutally tortured, and executed without mercy. Yet Jesus is at peace. And He wants them to have the same peace. He wants us to have the same peace. To not be anxious or afraid…
Jesus tells us where to find this peace.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
Even in the most difficult circumstances, in the things that can trouble your heart and conscience, Jesus wants you to have peace. His peace. He wants you to have peace because He loves you, because anger and fear can rob you of joy and lead to other problems.
Christ has already given every believer peace with God at Calvary.
But there's more. Jesus offers you His peace in a world that knows no peace.
Jesus makes us a promise here. "My peace I give to you." "The same peace that I have, you can have."
The peace the world gives depends on good fortune, good relationships, and things going our way. Sometimes God gives us this peac; He calms the storm—but not always.
Jesus offers another peace for those times when the storm isn't immediately calmed, when our world seems to fall apart, and we can't mute or pause what is happening.
The peace Jesus gives is for "real" life.
In the midst of a troubled, nothing is normal, I'm stressed out, feeling guilty, feeling angry and my hair-is-on-fire world, Jesus says don't allow your hearts to be troubled or fearful, you don't have to, then He invites us to draw near to Him by faith to receive His peace.
On the one hand this peace is found in the cross, in our own forgiveness,
Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The peace Jesus gives in this context is rooted in God's sovereignty.
My peace I give to you… Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful…
John 14:30 I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, [Satan has a hand in Jesus' arrest] and he has nothing in Me; [i.e., "he has no hooks in me", Jesus says, "he doesn't frighten me; he has no authority over me."] 31 but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here.
Notice this. That night, every force of evil opposed our Lord, yet Jesus sounds like a man in charge. And what is the source of His peace? The same as ours. Jesus simply trusted God's sovereignty, the Father's good plan that even uses evil for His good. "Guys, Satan's not in charge; My Father is. I have peace. I choose to trust Him through this. Everything that happens tonight is exactly as He allows."
Church, don't let your heart be troubled by the pandemic, God has set boundaries over which it cannot pass. Don't stress over the day to day trials this is bringing to your family, your home, your finances, your summer plans.
Don't let the racial injustice or political divisiveness or identity politics that are ripping this nation apart sweep you away or rob you of peace.
All of these are troubling. Yet hear the good news: Your father in heaven is completely in charge and none of this catches Him off guard. Not COVID. Race relations. Canceled classes. Cancel culture.
Bring these to Christ. Take shelter under His watchful eye and authority.
Psalms 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea.
If your heart IS worried, the good news is that Christ isn't worried at all. If you heart is troubled, realize that God's heart is fully at peace. Jesus' yoke is easy. Even if you're depressed by the troubles in this world, God is full of joy. Even if your unable relax, Jesus Christ is seated on the throne.
Our Lord doesn't fear as we do. He's aware of every single detail. He cannot be outflanked, outmaneuvered. He will right all wrongs.
Until then, God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God. (Romans 8:28)
Even if you don't have this peace right now, turn to Christ,
Philippians 4:5… The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The one time Jesus' own peace was clearly tested, He went to the Father and prayed, and He was able to submit His heart to the Father's will. Not just praying, but trusting God in the garden, Jesus found confidence to continue.
Confident trust in the truth of God's sovereign care fills our heart with peace.
These past few months have been stressful. You're not meant to face this in your own strength. We trust in the government, Dr. Fauci, masks, ourselves… But you have a God who has full control, and He is for you. He loves you and wants to give you His peace to soar through this; cast your cares on Him.
In that same conversation in the upper room, Jesus told His followers,
John 16:27… The Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.
John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.
Jesus declares bold victory, triumph. Sin and conscience torment us but certainly Jesus Christ has overcome each.
This is such good news.
The Lord who overcame sin and death is fearlessly in the boat with you. Facing the storm. You need but trust His sovereign care, His confident presence; that He's overcoming evil with good, working out the Father's long range plans.
Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts [let it, allow it, submit to the calming peace that trusting Jesus gives], to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
This is to the whole church.
So many things divide the nation but don't let them divide the church. Don't let the politics and personal views of great-but-lesser things fill your mind and spill into your attitudes and relationships.
Such fear and division reflects the world's perspective, for without faith in God or assurance of His favor, this planet, this life, and all that we see is all that there is. I am all I've got. So every issue seems monumental. There's no peace in this.
As Christians, we have an eternal perspective, we're not in control, and the one who is in control is absolutely committed to our good, He loves us.
When we consider the future rather than worry or fear we trust that Jesus has already conquered sin and death for us, that He's returning with justice and righteousness and love, and He will bring all things in harmony with God.
We look at today's ills and we recognize the age old problem of sin and evil.
We don't resort to hatred; we don't fight like the world. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, powers, the world forces of this darkness, the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
Rather, when we look to an unsettled world we can see that they lack the peace of Christ, they're hurting, angry, frightened, and rather than mirror their actions, we remember our mission.
Our neighbors need us to love them and share the good news of God's peace freely given them in Christ,
Isaiah 52:7 How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"