Trouble is real. The spiritual reality is that Jesus never promised us trouble-free lives but would provide the means, a choice to rise above the trouble. The COVID-19 pandemic and other troubles in the world are not evidence for the non-existence of God rather shows that we are fragile, vulnerable and ‘increasingly incapable of running this planet ourselves,’ without God (Gen 1). Indeed, the world is in trouble of a serious global health crisis as COVID-19, Malaria, Lassa fever and others poses existential threat to the human race. The reflection is how do we make a choice or react to the all-round gloom that deepens ‘the steep economic downturn and concomitant loss of jobs and incomes, economic distress, and lowered quality of life due to the pandemic’?
The trouble is assuming alarming threats and ‘causing much psychological anxiety.’ Among our troubles includes the fear of what the future may hold especially when some ‘normal’ aspects of our lives we always take for granted are changing. What about the trouble and stress of uncertain future? Do we have a choice? We, being the offspring of Adam, we have the freedom to make our own choices. Where can we find help in making good choices, and find comfort in the midst of our troubles? The Bible unlike the books of men and women provides a message of comfort and hope in our troubles from a caring God who sent His ONLY Son, Jesus Christ with a rescue plan for the world.
The Gospel reading on the 5th Sunday of Easter, Jesus’ farewell address beyond life after death invites us to a warmed-heart encounter with Jesus. As against the prevalent factual and head knowledge about God, a transformed and a renewed knowledge through the leading of the Holy Spirit will obey and glorify Jesus Christ.
At the beginning of John 14, Jesus responded to the anxiety of his disciples by saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me (v. 1). Humanly speaking, the disciples were troubled, ‘the ground is shifting beneath their feet.’ The setting of this conversation reminds us about some of the troubles faced by the disciples. Jesus’ farewell address was a trouble they did not envisaged or prepared for. It was a double trouble for them when Jesus foretold his betrayal by Judas and Peter’s imminent denial (Jn 13:36-38). Without any notice, they were thrown into labour market and ministry downturn. The disciples were plunged into great distress and trouble. Trouble is no respecter of persons or nations. Trouble comes to us all but we must know what to do not to be troubled in trouble. There was nothing imaginary about the reality of the disciples’ trouble. How is your trouble compared with the disciples? Have you wept until you have had no more power to weep? The disciples were in trouble even as followers of Jesus. Christianity is not an immunity from trouble (1 Pet 4:12). The Lord could prevent all our troubles, but He does not do so in order for us to trust Him where and when we cannot understand the “whys” and the “wherefores” of His dealings with us (Rom 8:28).
Some trouble may not be our own fault while in a real sense some trouble are our own faults and sins. David in his time of trouble, “found strength in the Lord his God” (1 Sam 30:6). Jesus’ admonition, “Let not your heart be troubled,” summons us to allow our hearts to be still in God’s presence knowing that God is in the trouble with us. In trouble but not troubled, a choice? Beloved, we have a choice. There are two paths, life and death, there are two masters, Jesus and Satan, and there are two forces, light and dark. Indeed, no choice is an option and the reasons for making choices not only defines us, they determines our values, character, and focus.
Jesus’ loving admonition reminds us that life is a product of choices and a matter of where to keep our focus. You don’t need to allow worry or anxiety to paralyse you in your trouble or be victimised by your feelings. Our troubles today resonates with the dark hours of Jesus’ betrayal, abuse, torture and crucifixion, when the world of the eleven disciples collapsed into chaos and their sun set at midday. The sorrow of a breaking heart could be an excruciating, horrifying pain. Are you bereaved, perplexed, filled with anxiety and bewildered, please heed Jesus’ calming assurance, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1). Trust His presence and wonderful promises. Eternity is not a vain hope, JESUS IS COMING BACK, you can trust His person as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.