Later in this same Chapter, Jesus repeats these words again, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) In both verses Jesus is telling us that we have control over doubt, fear, and confusion…”Do not allow (or permit) your hearts (or minds) to be troubled. (confused and/or terrified) ” He wouldn’t be telling us to do something if it wasn’t possible for us to achieve it. Now stop and read that last sentence again please! Jesus is telling us that we all have the direct influence within us to rein in and exercise restraint over fear…but it’s contingent on our trust in Him. In other words, a troubled heart is an unbelieving heart. So our success over doubt and fear lies largely in how we build our faith in God. And this confidence in Him only comes by reading the Bible and praying daily…for you can never fully trust a stranger.
When Jesus shouted into that grave, He was taking divine authority over death. And this wasn’t the only time He did this. In Luke 7:14 He raised back to life the only son of a widow when He touched the coffin and said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” And when He ordered the dead daughter of Jairus to, “Get up!”… she did. (Luke 8:54) But His disciples were also witnesses to these miracles…and their faith grew with each one. For we find in Acts 9:40, Peter was called to pray for a lovely old woman by the name of Dorcas, a devote Follower, who had died. Under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit within, Peter repeated the same words of Jesus, “Get up!”…and Dorcas came back to life.
Angels of the Lord had warned Lot and his family of the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah… and to flee and not look back. But even with the warning…Lot’s wife still turned back towards what once had been her life and lost it. Jesus also reminds us of this in Luke 17:32, when He told His disciples, “Don’t go back.” So why are we so prone to do exactly what the Lord tells us not to? When our fear of the unknown outweighs our faith in God…we go back. And when anxiety supersedes what we know in our heart to be true, our mind goes back to familiar coping mechanisms…allowing fear to crowd out our confidence in God.
In all our lives we will go through darkness…not the kind caused by sin or disobedience…but darkness that comes out of fear and confusion in this broken world. But while we are crouched down in the Valley of Despair, we need to listen…for the Lord will be speaking life-bringing truths into our soul. Precious truths of encouragement, and exhortation that will sustain us during illness, pain, and loss. Isaiah 50:10 tells us, ” Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.”
Deuteronomy 33:27 goes on to assure us that, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” The Lord should be the very first one to turn to in times of pain and suffering, and prayer should be our first action, not an afterthought. For there is a place of security and a sense of peace amid any turmoil…it’s found only beneath the loving and everlasting arms of Jesus.
Jesus was spending time here teaching His disciples about priorities. He started out, by encouraging them not to be worried because they didn’t possess the “things” that the world viewed as valuable. Jesus instead told them to, “Seek first the kingdom of God.” In other words, when our priorities are in the right place…God first, Family next, the World last… God will bless and take care of us.
Are your prayers more of a formula of repetitious words from memory…often without paying attention to what you’re actually saying? Have they become just a fixed routine of the same prayers repeated over and over again? Congratulations, you have the gift of religious gab! But this isn’t how the Lord wants you to communicate with Him. It isn’t the quantity or intensity of your prayers that He desires. Rather, it’s the heart-felt, getting real before the Lord, quality He wants.