But Take Heart
Saturday, April 4, 2020
Devotional for Day 18
One of my favorite attributes of God is His sovereignty. It has brought not only a deep sense of comfort in hard moments, but provided a lens to see all of life through. I think back to conversations I had with my unbelieving dad about what God was doing in my mind and heart when I first became a Christian at age 24. He would listen and often say, “Well, that’s great to hear, Pumpkin.” As time went on, he began to ask questions about eternity, salvation, morality, science, etc. He was being drawn to the things of heaven. For his 58th birthday, I felt emboldened to purchase a large-print (he liked anything large-print) Bible. I went through this Bible and highlighted answers to many of the questions and conversations we had. I put tabs that said topics like heaven, suffering, hope, salvation, science, and miracles.
One of my favorite scriptures I had highlighted under the tab of peace was John 16:33:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
My dad had fairly severe neuropathy, diabetes, and other health conditions that made his everyday life very difficult. I reminded him quite often of the hope and comfort in the life to come if he put his trust in Jesus. He liked John 16:33 because it affirmed the hardship of his life, but spoke of a peace from another world that seemed possible to have right now. I remember picking apart this verse with him over the phone. I said, something along the lines of, “Dad look what it’s saying...”
“I have said these things to you...” Jesus first reminds the disciples of who He was. For Jesus to have been able to tell them everything we read in chapter 16 and before, they would have to recognize He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and fully sovereign over all things. Literally in verse 28 He said He came from the Father into the world, and was about to go back to the Father. He’s the Kingdom on earth.
“...that in me you may have peace.” Jesus reminds them of what they have in their relationship with Him—something no one in this world could offer—true peace. He is their unbreakable rock, their strength, their hope, their salvation - they would soon know, he was the Savior of the world.
“In the world you will have tribulation.” Jesus doesn’t say they might have hard times, he says they will. He’s preparing them for the days to come in which he would be crucified, but also the reality for life here in the fallen world.
“But take heart...” Don’t lose hope; be encouraged because...
“...I have overcome the world.” He shares the hope and saving grace that was about to come - Jesus conquered it all. Jesus lived the perfect life that we could not live, died the death we deserve to die, and just when things looked horrible and impossible, raised Himself from the dead to give us new life with Him. He won.
I remember shortly after my dad received this Bible, something in his heart began to soften. On my birthday he sent me a card with words that were different from anything he’d written before. He wrote, “You have done so much in a short amount of time. But I’m most proud of you getting saved by God. I’m so thankful.” My eyes filled with tears. Was God answering my prayer for my dad’s salvation?
A few months later, I got a call from my aunt letting me know my father was admitted into the hospital. I flew to Indiana to receive the news he had Stage 4 cancer and that his body was shutting down. I sat in his hospice room for six days reading scripture to him, praying, and laughing. One night he looked at me and said, “Pumpkin, you were right this whole time. Jesus is real and I’m going to see him soon. I wasted so much time here, but not anymore.” Three days later, my dad looked up, smiled, and said, “I can see it. I see it,” and closed his eyes to pass into glory a few hours later. That night, John 16:33 became a reality for my dad. He experienced what Jesus conquered for him, for you, and for me.
Lord, I thank You for the gift of today. Please help us not take for granted or lose sight of the peace You’ve given us. Help us cling to this truth that You have overcome the world, and enable us to rest in the finished work on the cross. “Your love is better than life...” In Jesus’ strong, and holy name, Amen
Ministry Fellow, Christian Union Nova