ALLISON VAN EGMOND | GUEST
The world news blares updates about recent warfare. An email alert chimes with bad news from a doctor. A mom yells in frustration. A pastor is persecuted for speaking the truth. A teen is plagued with suicidal thoughts. A kid screams for attention. A couple quarrels regularly. A woman struggles with falling into the same sin. There are many daily concerns that threaten to steal our peace.
Longing for Peace
Our chaotic lives can cause us to feel overwhelmed and unsettled. We are surrounded by various forms of suffering. Sometimes in the midst of the turmoil in my own life, I dream about lounging on the beach with a book in my hand, a salty snack to nibble on, and the soothing sounds of the ocean around me. Perhaps you’ve had a similar daydream.
When life seems to swirl in chaos around us, we tend to want to escape the noise. We dream about another world, another place where there are no demands on our attention, no noises filling our ears, no fears or sorrows filling our minds. We long for a break. A pause button. Peace and quiet.
But even when we do get to escape for a little while, does the chaos really go away? Does the vacation in Hawaii actually give you lasting peace? Does the quiet moment in your living room while your kids are napping allow you to truly escape the tribulations of this world? The reality is, in this life, peace is often fleeting.
In the Upper Room Discourse, Jesus prepared His disciples for a chaotic time to come. In the week leading up to Christ’s death on the cross, there was turmoil as the religious leaders questioned Jesus’ authority and position. There was an imminent political threat as Jesus was soon to be arrested. There was confusion in their midst as Jesus told His disciples that one would betray Him and another would deny Him. Each disciple likely experienced inner turmoil as they wrestled with the news that soon Jesus would leave them and the world would hate them. I can only imagine the amount of fear and anxiety they felt at that moment when Jesus said “Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone,” (John 16:32). Their hearts surely did not feel at peace.
So what does Jesus tell His disciples right after he warns them of this scattering? Does He tell them to try to escape their problems or to find a nice quiet beach somewhere so they can forget about their troubles? No, He tells them, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace,” (John 16:33a). In HIM they will have peace. That’s it? No escape plan? I don’t think I’d be feeling peace after hearing that I will be scattered from my friends, my beloved teacher will be leaving me, and I might get arrested. But Jesus is teaching his disciples that peace does not come from their circumstances or their environment.
Peace In Jesus
In this section of John, Jesus has just finished reminding His disciples that He is preparing a place for them (14:3); that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (14:6); that He is sending a Helper (14:16), and that He is the true vine (15:1). So despite the fact that persecution, hatred, and disruption are coming (15:18-25), Jesus declares that His followers may have peace. But if chaos is all around them, where is this peace coming from? It comes from Jesus’ Word and from the Helper.
Notice that Jesus says “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace” [emphasis mine]. Jesus points His disciples to His very words as the source of peace. The hearing of God’s Word is what will bring them ultimate peace in their hearts, even in the midst of chaos. With His Word, Jesus comforted and prepared His disciples for what was to come. In His word, we too find peace. Through hearing, reading, and meditating on His word, we can have real lasting peace no matter what each day has in store for us.
Jesus’ words are life-giving and encouraging, and yet He didn’t just stop there. He also promised His Spirit would be with His followers (16:13) giving them constant access to this peace. The disciples would no longer have to look around town for Jesus in order to be in His presence. Instead, His Spirit would dwell within them. The Spirit of the Prince of Peace dwelling within His followers, past and present, all the time. In His presence, we too find peace. It is through the work of the Spirit that we can have peace with God, peace with others, and peace within our own hearts.
Jesus closes this time with His disciples by saying, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b). And with that, dear sisters, I say to you— despite the turmoil you are experiencing in this world, the chaos in your home, or the commotion in your heart and mind— our goal should not be to escape our troubles, for in this life we will have tribulations. Instead, we find lasting peace by turning to the Word, resting in the love of the Father, and experiencing the work of the Spirit. Though the struggles of this world do not fade away, take heart! Jesus has overcome the world!
About the Author:
Allison Van Egmond
Allison serves on staff at New Life PCA in Escondido, CA as the Women’s Ministry Coordinator. She is married to Nathan, a ruling elder and math teacher, and is mom to 7 year old Ellie and 5 year old Levi. She loves working and serving in the church and has a passion for creating Christ-centered and life-giving community. Allison loves going camping with her family, having deep conversations with friends, sipping on chai tea, laughing with her kids, and recharging at the beach.