My Peace I Give You
One day in High School, I was sitting on the floor outside of my classroom reading my Bible. Obviously very distraught over an upcoming exam, a fellow-student asked me for some pithy word of wisdom from « the good book. » I flipped to John 14:1-3 and read,
1« Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.
2« In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
3« If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
John 14-17 has been my favorite passage of Scripture for nearly a decade. In it, Jesus offers a wealth of comforting and encouraging words to help tender souls like myself in our driest moments.
Especially sweet to me this week has been the « peace » which God gives.
What sort of peace is this? It is not as the world gives. The world gives peace by removing stressors, by flattery, and by pleasure. Jesus’ instructions do not include removing one’s self from pain, seeking out pleasure, or flattering one’s self: rather, he says, « believe in me. »
Does this mean that every Christian is automatically at peace? Certainly not. We believe in Christ for our salvation, and this is our first step towards peace. But what is the foundation of the peace which He gives, not as the world gives? « In my Father’s house are many rooms. …I am going there to prepare a place for you, that were I am, you also may be. »
So many roots of anxiety are cut off by this one single phrase!
1. Anxiety in the face of death
As eternal creatures stuffed into temporal bodies, all of us fear and loathe death (see Ecclesiastes), which ultimately makes every human effort completely useless. However, death is not the end – we are going someday to be close to the Father in Jesus Christ. What comfort there is in this knowledge!
2. Anxiety in the face of Fatherlessness
There is no wound deeper than the loss of a Father. There is no distress more powerful than the subtle thoughts of « I must do more to make my father love me » and « I am not doing enough! My father rejects me! » Yet we have a Father who has already and always prepared a room for us – both in His house and in His heart. Oh, what wonderful peace there is in this knowledge!
Jesus never promises to remove us from difficulty: in fact, He does not even pray that we will be spared troubles. Rather, He prays that we will be spared from the Evil One in the midst of troubles (John 17:15). When we remain in Him, He will remain in us (John 15:1-11). As we are about His mission of good news, He will be with us – even to the ends of the earth (Mat. 28:20).
Could a mother or father forsake their children? Even if they could, God never forsakes His people. He has engraved them on His hands, and they are continually before Him (Isaiah 49:15-16).
In this is peace which can last all the storms of life: that in Christ, we belong.