By L&T Columnist Gary Damron
Our middle child was always sensitive. When he was little, we had an ice storm that knocked out electricity for eight days so we all slept in the living room. He enjoyed the coziness so much he cried when the power came back on, and we all moved back to our own rooms.
Years later, he still cares for people; we were with him Sunday as he shared a message of hope from scriptures often read at funeral services.
“Let not your heart be troubled” (John 14:1) were words spoken specifically by Jesus to his disciples, during a somber time of betrayal, denial and apprehension. Today people around the world face the same kind of anxieties, with a civilian passenger plane missing and another shot down, ground forces fighting in many places, students kidnapped, and moral decay revealed even in those with whom we’ve put our trust. How could they – or we – not be troubled, when hearts are heavy with dread?
Just as Christ spoke to his followers, he encourages us to turn to the “Who” who answers the “How” of overcoming trouble. By drawing closer to our Creator we learn the source of joy and peace that will stand up to any circumstance.
Throughout history man struggled with serving an invisible God, but then Jesus came to show us the Father and model for us how to live and provide for those in need. Before he left, Jesus also promised to send the Spirit who would counsel, help and abide with whoever accepts him.
Many have difficulty with the Trinity, three persons in one, but Jesus’ words in John 14 give a good explanation. “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (verse 11), and, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you ... the Spirit of truth” (verses 16-17). Deep theological truths end with assurance; “I will not leave you as orphans” (verse 18).
The image of God handing out judgment while Christ stands in as our protector fails to take into account that the Father’s intent from the beginning has been to save mankind. Jesus demonstrates the exact nature of God, both in judgment and mercy.
The message concludes with John 14:14, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” The meaning of course is not that God hands out miracles to all who ask, but rather that our will becomes so in tune with His that the requests we make “in his name” will be even greater than those of Jesus. Augustine’s idea was if we love God, our will be His, so whatever we’re requesting will be within His plan.
Through centuries of troubled hearts, millions have placed their lives in His hands. Not for an existence free from want or difficulty – we’re told to keep his commands (verse 15) and obey his teaching (verse 23). But as we learn his truth (verse 6) we can ask in confidence for our yearnings and we will find joy and peace.