The Are you ready?
Get ready because it’s coming to your community soon. This is message that we hear through the media, government officials, family, friends and associates. Confronted with threat of COVID 19, it seems everyone is preparing for the inevitable. Many of us are going to get sick and many will have a so-called “fatal experience” and confront our mortality. Simply put, we may die.
So, by now you’ve heard all the warnings preparing you for this encounter. Wash your hands often; practice social distancing; avoid crowds; stay inside if you are sick; cough into your arm; etc. People are accumulating goods that they will need, such as toilet paper. In our own way, each of us is preparing to face this bodily threat.
We’ve also been warned that certain demographics are more vulnerable others. Take me for instance, I’m well over 60 and diabetic. Further, my respiratory system – especially my diaphragm – is compromised because of my paralysis. So, there’s a good chance that I am at risk, even high risk.
We all know that we are not going to live forever. Still, we don’t usually like to think about death and dying. It troubles us. Over the past 10 years, since my injury, I have faced death several times. I’m no expert, but I know someone who is. His name is Jesus, and he faced the same kind of turmoil we do.
There is a word in the New Testament usually translated “troubled;” it is used to describe the inner turmoil and anxiety familiar to each of us. It depicts the gut-wrenching anxiety and agony we experience in uncertain and threatening circumstances. No doubt, you are familiar with the feeling.
Although there are other occasions when Jesus experienced this emotion, it is specifically stated in John 11 that Jesus was troubled. He was at the grave of his friend Lazarus who had unexpectedly died while Jesus was on a short trip. (There is much good teaching in this chapter, but I’m now concerned to highlight the emotions of Jesus.) Verse 33 describes Jesus as being “deeply moved and greatly troubled.” Jesus was not only troubled but greatly troubled.
Jesus is familiar with the feeling. He has faced that turmoil and gut- wrenching anxiety just as we do. Would you like to know how he handled it? I think his strategy is revealed in John 14 where his followers are facing a similar situation.
This post is the first in a miniseries which focuses on Jesus’ instructions for confronting trouble, with its bewilderment, uncertainty and confusion.
It is the night on which Jesus will be betrayed and arrested. He knows that on the next day he will die an agonizing death on a roman cross. Jesus has been preparing his disciples for this time. He informed them that he is going away from them and they are not able to go with him.
The disciples must have been crushed. Their expectations shattered! It seemed that Jesus was about to abandon his disciples.
All kinds of questions must have flooded their minds. Peter, as usual, is the first to speak: “Where are you going?” Jesus responds, “Somewhere you cannot go now.” Peter: Why can’t I go now! I’ll even die for you, if I must. Jesus says, “Die for me! I tell you the truth, you won’t even say you know me before the night is over. In fact, before dawn, you will deny me three times.”
These men are stunned. They are confused and perplexed.
In this context of chaos that Jesus speaks from experience and says: Let not your hearts be troubled.
Speaking of the heart, Jesus refers to the inner being, the seat of thoughts, feelings and will. Jesus speaks of the whole inner self – especially the mind, feelings and emotions.
The term troubled means to churn up, to stir or agitate.
Being troubled is being shaken and agitated. Your insides are churning. There is bewilderment and confusion – inner turmoil. Your stomach is in knots. You are to the point of panic. You feel helpless and about to be overwhelmed. This is what I call gut-wrenching turmoil; Jesus hints that it is heart trouble.
And Jesus says: (literally) Stop being troubled! The force of the verb in the original calls for us to stop an action already in progress. Stop being troubled.
Notice that Jesus tells us not only to stop being troubled. But how to do it. That is, we are to stop being troubled by exercising faith – faith in God and faith in Christ.
Trust in God. Believe in God. In other words, trust in God. Look to the Almighty, sovereign God, who is your Lord and call out to him. Wait upon him.
Psalm 42.5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.
Proverbs. 3.5,6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.
Control your emotions by trusting in God. He will not let you down. Jesus says: trust in God. He has also shown us how.
Trust in Christ. Jesus says Believe in God; believe in me.
In the Bible the word believe is the same word as faith. To believe is to have faith. What is in view is a personal relationship of mutual trust and commitment. Jesus says, “Believe in me!”
This is the remedy for the fear of dying. This is an invitation to saving faith in Christ as Savior and Lord – Jesus utters these words on his way to the cross. But this is just the beginning of the relationship, not the end. Jesus calls you to an ongoing relationship of love and trust.
Whether it is COVID-19 or any other threat, Jesus is the ultimate solution. He calls you to trust him.
You can control your emotions. Do it. You do not need to be afraid of dying. Trust in Jesus and ask for his forgiveness.
Control your emotions by faith in God’s providence and God’s salvation through Jesus.