Jesus had just finished telling His disciples that He would be leaving them. He wasn’t revealing everything to them yet because they weren’t ready. But Jesus ended this discussion with these words: “I have told you these things, so that you may have peace in me. In this world you are going to have trouble. But be courageous! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 EHV).
We have heard expressions such as “In these unprecedented times” so often that they have become utterly meaningless. The information avalanche of disease statistics, death, rioting, and social unrest threaten to overwhelm even the strongest among us. We face off over the argument of whether or not to wear masks, ignoring or setting aside love and patience for those who disagree with our idea of how it should be and demanding that our way is correct. We watch an endless cycle of information on television and online telling us not only what is happening but how we should think, with each source often disagreeing with or contradicting the others. Because so many of our world’s problems are now in the open, we are tempted to believe that these times are indeed “unprecedented.” But they are not. Not even close.
Whatever has been is what will be again, and whatever has already been done is what will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9 EHV). Everything that we are experiencing today has happened before—just maybe not in our city or country, maybe not in our lifetimes. Has a disease caused worldwide problems, huge death tolls, and personal and financial hardships? Have civil unrest and rioting caused fear and decisions based on emotion instead of rational thought and discussion? You know the answers. While all these things may or may not be new to us, they have all happened countless times in our world’s history. And, if God allows our world to continue, they will happen again.
So what do we do? As Christians, we listen again to Jesus’ words to His disciples: “Be courageous! I have overcome the world.” Be courageous. All the problems of this world will certainly cause us concern and maybe even fear. We never know what the next chapters of this life will reveal. But we know the ending of the story. The ending never changes. Jesus has overcome the world. Through His perfect life, innocent death, and glorious resurrection, Jesus has overcome the world! He has paid for your sins and mine! He has forgiven you! He promises eternal life to His faithful!
Your courage comes not from your own personality or thought, nor from the correct political party. Your courage comes from being a redeemed child of God! While we stumble through our current crises, look to the cross for your strength. Return to the baptismal font, seeing there your promise of forgiveness. Listen to God’s Word and study it. Return to His Supper, as you have opportunity, for forgiveness and strength. Leave your concerns at the foot of the cross. Let your fear build into strength through faith in your Savior. And that strength from our Lord will give you the courage to face the troubles of this world. Because Jesus has overcome them.
Rev. Paul Fries