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.
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.
The Lord is asking you this same question today…”Do you believe this?” Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved? Do you believe that He died for your sins that you may have eternal life? Maybe you’ve never been confronted to make a decision for Jesus…or maybe you’ve been resisting the wooing of the Holy Spirit. Either way, believing is a commitment of mind, body and spirit. It’s the start of an intimate spiritual journey of faith, trust, and obedience. The Lord is asking you today, “Do you believe?”
Stiff-necked is a great word picture. It comes from oxen resisting the yoke placed on them by the farmer. And when we turn away from God and His Word…we’re essentially doing the same thing. We stubbornly think God’s yoke is too difficult to bear and so in rebellion we throw off the yoke of obedience. But it warns us in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” For we become totally deceived when we think that the yoke of sin is easy to escape out of…for in reality, the bondage of its yoke is far heavier and more difficult to carry.
James 4:8 tells us to, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” What does “coming near to God” look like though? It starts with communing or fellowshiping with our Heavenly Father…and that means getting to know Him. It’s similar to when you first started dating your spouse…you talked together endless hours, getting to know each other. God wants us to know Him…and He wants us to trust Him. But we have to know Him before we can trust Him…and that means reading His Word and praying. God assures us that if we seek Him, we will find Him…for He’s longingly waiting for that opportunity to be known by us.