“Let not your heart be troubled”

At a crucial time in the relationship with his disciples, Jesus told them, “Let not your hearts be troubled! Believe in God and believe in Me! In my Father’s house there are many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going to prepare a place for you. If I go to prepare a place for you, I shall also come again and take you to be with Me, so that you also may be where I am.”
John 14:1-3:   

Take a Moment to Ponder

At a time when grief and loss would visit the disciples, they received the words, “let not your heart be troubled.” Tried, as he did, to give some assurance to them, when Jesus’ words reached the ear of the disciples, all they heard was goodbye.  Jesus would leave his disciples, and his departure would damage their faith. They would find themselves entangled in a web of confusion: betrayal, arrest, torture, denial, trial and death: indeed, a web that would threaten to destroy any faith they had in the God of Jesus – the God he had taught them to commune with; the God whom he had taught them to trust; the God whose comforting presence in the person of the Holy Spirit, would come to stay with them.

Jesus would leave, but he was concerned about his bewildered disciples who did not seem to be able to comprehend the magnitude of God’s plan of salvation. At the forefront of Jesus’ mind was not how he would manage the cross or the realness of sin upon his shoulders. The troubled hearts of the disciples troubled him. “Let not your hearts be troubled” were words that should have served to strengthen the disciples when they saw him hanging from the cross. These words also sustain us when we are led to circumstances that we cannot meander by our own strength and whit. 

Jesus says: Trust in God. Although what you see around you sometimes may be mindboggling, “farther along you’ll know all about it, farther along you’ll understand why.” So Jesus asked his disciples to trust in God, even when they couldn’t see his reasons. He wanted them to know that all things work together for the good of those who trust in God, although sometimes the path and goal is not evident.  He wanted them to know that the father knows what is best, has the master plan, and holds the future in his hands. Trust in God, whose goodness doesn’t allow him to be unkind; whose wisdom doesn’t make any provision for errors, and so, if they didn’t see his hand at work, they would do well to trust his heart.

Jesus says: “Believe also in me.” I am laying down my life in the sure and certain hope of resurrection.  In my resurrection, you will find resurrection. In my death, you will find salvation. In my going away from you, you will be guaranteed a place in the nearer presence of your creator.  Jesus wanted them to understand that his leaving did not mean the disciples would be comfortless.  After all, they had been with him at Lazarus’ tomb where he spoke words of comfort to Martha: “I am the resurrection and I am the life.” There he gave the assurance that those who believe in him would live. 

Jesus says, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Jesus went to clear the impediments out of the way of the disciples.  His leaving has cleared the way for you and me. Our sins blocked the path.  Like mountains, our errors oppose our passage, but he went so that it may be said, the breaker has gone up before[1].  He has broken down every wall of partition and every gate he has opened. The way into the kingdom is opened to all believers.  He passed through death to resurrection and ascension to remove all obstacles from our path.  

He further says, In my father’s house there are many rooms. I go to prepare a place for you so that where I am you will be also.” And therein lies the clear assurance that a dwelling place where all will be well in the nearer presence of the creator whose heart rejoices when his wearied children come home is being prepared. I imagine, that like the grief and loss we have suffered during and as a result of this Covid-19 pandemic, the disciples had the same or a more intensified version of this in their minds and their hearts were indeed troubled. But, as he asked them, he asks us: Let not your hearts to be troubled.” Hold on to the promise that we eventually will go to inherit and inhabit the place prepared by our saviour.

Let us not allow our hearts to be troubled:

  1. A troubled heart gives way to a doubtful and fretful spirit
  2. A troubled heart soaks up our joy
  3. A troubled heart compels us to be preoccupied with ourselves and our own circumstances
  4. A troubled heart, though not dishonourable to God, can cause us to lose sight of the love and faithfulness of God. 
  5. A troubled heart causes us to lose heart through the trials of our lives.
  6. A troubled heart blinds our vision especially when fearful, anxious moments come.

Yes, trials depress our hearts.  Mere mortals in all their best efforts cannot, in word or deed, render comfort to the degree of pain we feel. But let us remember that we have the unfailing comforter, whose presence assures us that we are never alone.  Let us commit the case of our sorrowful spirit into His divine hands.

Many have lost loved ones during and due to this Covid-19 pandemic.  It is made more difficult because some cannot travel to pay their respects, and some don’t get a chance to say goodbye. This makes the pain even more real and difficult to deal with.  Still, we have the assurance that we will in time, be with our Saviour, for where the saviour is, is heaven, and the saviour bears the presence of the father to us.

So, in the turmoil of your lives, in the fear, the doubt, death, and even the good motives that never quite go anywhere: do not let your hearts be troubled. Do not let them be disturbed. Trust God; trust also in Christ. God dwells among God’s people. God makes God’s home with you. You have a place with God. This is your Lord, who has spoken, and He will do it. Let us hold on. Hold on to his words and “let not our hearts be troubled.”Amen.

[1] Micah 2:13

Contributed by Rev Douglas Barnes