John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
I probably quote this verse more than any other, particularly in messages. Once again, the Japanese amplifies my understanding of what is said. As has come out recently, Japanese differentiates between inner, emotional peace and the absence of external conflict. It is entirely possible, even common, for someone to be in inner turmoil even though their external circumstances are quite peaceful. It is also possible, though less common, for someone to have inner peace even though their circumstances are chaotic, even violent. That’s what Jesus is talking about here. External peace is welcome, but Jesus knew it would be in short supply for His disciples for the rest of their time on earth. Another way the Japanese translation I use helps me understand what Jesus said here is the specific combination of characters used to express “trouble.” It’s unusual enough that Microsoft IME doesn’t want to give it to me when I type this verse in phonetically. The second character used is relatively expected, but the first is “patient,” as in someone in a hospital. The character itself isn’t unusual, but the combination is. I don’t know the Greek there, but the Japanese certainly agrees with experience. We know from Acts, as well as Paul’s letters, that early believers had health issues just as we do. God is indeed our Healer, (Exodus 15:26) and miracles of healing are to be expected even today, just as they were in Jesus’ ministry. (John 14:12) However, that doesn’t mean we can be careless with our health, doing unhealthy things (like smoking or overeating) or failing to do healthy things (like appropriate nutrition, exercise, and rest). What Jesus is saying here is that because we live in a fallen world, all sorts of problems, including health issues, are part of the package. He then says why we can have inner peace regardless of our circumstances: He has overcome the world. When we abide in Him, as He talked about repeatedly throughout the Upper Room Discourse, we share in His victory, whatever it might look like at the moment. It blows my mind, actually, that He put “overcome” in the past tense when in the flow of time He had not yet gone through His crucifixion and resurrection. God is outside of time, so to Him, everything is already a done deal, and Christ and those in Him are on top. When we get that through our hearts and minds we can indeed have peace and even joy even when everything is falling apart.
I think I quote this so much because I need so much to remember it myself! Various things trigger anxiety and/or anger in me, so I have to choose to abide in Christ and receive His peace, just as He says here. It is a great comfort to be confident that there is no bureaucracy in heaven! (Tangling with such on earth can really trigger me!) I face many circumstances that I would like to be different, but one time when I was thinking about that the Lord said very clearly to me, “How do you think I feel?” He’s not happy about them either, and He’s not going to leave them that way. It will get very messy before He’s done, but the end result will be glorious. I am not to allow the devil to steal my peace or my joy, but submit every part of my being to God and receive all that He has for me.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me be increasingly effective in sharing this glorious truth with others, so that together we may be Christ’s disciples indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!