“I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative – that is, the Holy Spirit – he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
I think it’s fair to say that every generation in history has felt that the world is falling apart around them. We can make some strong arguments that the past few years have been uniquely difficult and stressful, with the pandemic, political turmoil, tensions around racial injustice, along with many other “the sky is falling” crises. And yet, even a modest dose of historical perspective will remind us that the generation who lived through World War II had it rough. As did their grandparents who endured World War I. As did those who faced the trauma of the Civil War, not to mention the unspeakable horrors of slavery. Point being, our nation and the whole world around us has dealt with an unending series of disasters, wars, political upheavals, medical catastrophes and countless personal tragedies. Life in this world is hard. We may feel that what we have to suffer through is particularly cruel, but sadly, our experience is just another example of “nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
So, where do we turn for relief from the hardships of life? Some use bitterness or anger as a shield against the world’s trauma. Some turn to medication, alcohol or drugs. Some flee from it all emotionally or even physically. Some seek shelter in the false promises of wealth or pleasure. For us, for followers of Jesus who live between the hope of heaven and the urgency of God’s calling in this world, we cling to the gift of peace that Jesus gives. Our Lord, who knew He would be arrested and killed only hours later, who also knew his followers would face persecution along with all the ordinary hardships of life, told the disciples not to be afraid but instead to receive the peace only He can offer. Jesus’ peace is not naïve or apathetic. He doesn’t call us out of the world or tell us to ignore the problems around us. Jesus sends his followers into the heart of the storm, into the turmoil and tragedies of life armed with “peace of mind and heart.” What is this peace that Jesus gives us? It’s the assurance of God’s goodness and power present in our lives through the Holy Spirit. It’s the awareness that no matter what we face, we have a divine Advocate on our side. It’s the hope of heaven that carries us through the sorrow of earth. Jesus knew we would face dark days, so He gave this priceless gift of peace made real in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
Take hold of that peace today. Jesus gives it to you because He knows you need it. You need his peace for today’s routine troubles and for tomorrow’s unforeseen trials. You need his peace when you feel tired, scared, angry, hurt, alone and all wrung out by this broken world. You even need his peace when all seems quiet and happy. So, invite the Spirit to move in your heart today and to fill you with that peace that only Jesus can give.
Holy Spirit, I need the peace of Jesus in my heart and mind. Drive out fear and anxious thoughts that too often rule my life. Help me to hear Your voice of wisdom and to lean on Your unfailing strength. I ask this in Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian