S177P2 – Forward-looking faith: expectations of peace

Jn. 16:28-33

“I came forth from the Father and have come into the world.  Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.”  His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech!  Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You.  By this we believe that You came forth from God.”  Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?  Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone.  And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.  These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

When I read the words of Jesus to his disciples here, I see what could be a battle between the pessimist and the optimist.  This is because the Lord gives them two promises.  The first promise does not seem great at all.  These men can rest assured that they will be scattered after having spent so much time relying on their tight community together.  They also can expect other tribulations thrown at them by this world, and Jesus will not be with them during that time.  The pessimist might focus on this promise with dread, but Christ’s second assurance is greater.  All the tribulation, all the struggle, all the separation and division will not prevail.  Jesus already has overcome it all, and that is the focus of the optimist (and the realist).

Some of us might be focused on preparing ourselves spiritually for the trials and the persecution which come with our faith.  We see them as great difficulties, and we might approach their inevitable arrival like a fighter preparing for battle.  While our spiritual preparation is necessary for us to walk worthy of the calling placed on us, we cannot forget that these battles already have been won.  Perhaps we have not fought them yet, but the victory already has been obtained.  We should engage the powers of sin and darkness from a place of victory, knowing that it is ours for the taking.  We must fight as those who are sure that they will prevail.

This peace that Christ has for us is for the future as immediate as the next moment and for the future as remote as our eternity in God’s restored order.  Part of this peace is the knowledge that Christ has overcome the world and we merely need to walk in that victory now.  That is how we approach these battles with peace and faith instead of with anxiety and doubt.  Another part of that peace is knowing that these trials are only for a time and will pass away one day.  Whether in the next moment or for the next hundred millennia, the Lord wants us to have the same peace in victory.  Father, help us to understand what it means to have the peace of Christ described here so that we can live in that victory daily now.