Understandably the disciples were overwhelmed when Jesus told them that He was going away and they could not go with Him (John 13:31-14:3). The disciples had given up their careers & devoted their lives to follow Jesus for over three years and now it appeared that Jesus was abandoning them. As a result, they were troubled, distressed, and confused. Their dreams were unraveling before their eyes.
The Cure for Anxiety: Trust in Christ!
We have all experienced trouble in our lives to the point where we have been overwhelmed and even in despair. The Christian life is not a life void of trouble. In fact, Jesus guaranteed that life would have tribulation and trouble (Jn 16:33). But in the midst of despair, Jesus commands His disciples not to let their hearts be troubled! He tells His disciples, “You trust in God, trust also in me” (Jn 14:1). Here is the cure for anxiety in our lives. Just as we trust God whom we cannot see, we must also trust in Christ! We must trust Him with our future. We must trust Him with every detail of our lives. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Heb 13:5). This is not a guarantee of health, wealth and prosperity. But it is a promise that He will preserve us, particularly our faith and raise us up on the last day (Jn 6:39)! Trusting in Jesus in our trouble means that we wholeheartedly believe that God is working out all of the details of our life for our good and for His glory (Rom 8:28)!
So many Christians use the world’s methods to cope with their anxiety. There are a number of options to choose from: medication, alcohol, drugs, intense counseling, etc. Some of these options are clearly bad while others can be good if used in the right manner. But first the Christian should cope with their anxiety by shoring up their minds and allowing their hearts to simply trust in Christ and His work in their lives. Christians should not be so quick to run to all other resources rather than learning first to rest in and trust their lives with the sovereign Christ! This will require much time in prayer and meditation on God’s Word. Instead of focusing so heavily on our problems, we must refocus our minds toward our Savior who says to us, “Trust me, I’ve got you in my hand. You are right where I want you!”
Opportunity to Exercise Faith
It is in trouble that Christians are given the opportunity to exercise faith. It is easy to exercise faith in the good times. But faith is proven in the bad times (James 1:2-4). Recently, one of our church members told me a story of a church which was raided in China by governmental officials. Several members including the Pastor and his wife were arrested and put into prison for over 7 months. While in the prison, the guards commented how some who were there were overwhelmed and distressed continually. But the guards also noticed how the Pastor and his wife were calm, and prison did not seem to bother them. The guard noticed that the pastor and his wife were at ease. How is it that Christians can be so calm in the midst of storms in their lives? The answer is certainly trusting in God and trusting in Christ. Christians must able to put into practice the command of Jesus, “Don’t let your heart be troubled….trust in me.” The world is watching us to see if our faith is real not only in the triumphs but also in our trouble.
Hold on to the Promises
In addition to commanding His disciples to trust in Him, Jesus gave them precious promises to believe about their future. While this earth is fleeting (James 4:14), and trouble is sure, heaven is being reserved for those who are true disciples of Christ. Jesus quickly comforted His troubling disciples by telling them that He was going away to heaven to His “Father’s house” in order to “prepare a place for [them]” (Jn 14:2). Heaven is a real place where the Father dwells. Jesus went there after His resurrection and secured a place for ALL of His disciples and He is waiting there to receive us to Himself. These promises are for us and should be the antidote for anxiety in our hearts when trouble comes.
Meditate on Heaven
Christians ought to think and meditate on heaven on a regular basis. We are too attached to this world and the material possessions that we own. Sometimes Christians even begrudge the idea of leaving this earth and going to heaven. But this should not be. Heaven has been prepared for us and has enough room for all of us. Its beauty is described in Revelation 21 by the Apostle John. It is a beautiful place where the streets are made of gold and every beautiful crystal is used in decoration. It is a place where there is no more pain, sadness, sorrow, tears or trouble! It is a real place where we will be reunited with our loved ones. It is a place where the inhabitants will have “fullness of joy, and pleasures forevermore” (Ps 16:11). But the best thing about Heaven is that Jesus is there. We will see Him face to face and always be with the Lord. Martin Luther said, “I had rather be in hell with Christ, than be in heaven without him.” Heaven is heaven because Jesus is there.
Heaven is a guarantee for true believers. Meditating on heaven is one of the means God has given us to persevere in this life. When all the troubles come, our hearts should remember the promises of Jesus and long for heaven even more. The trouble and suffering on this earth are minuscule compared to the glory that awaits us in heaven (Romans 8:18). We find comfort for our weary souls when we remember that Jesus is waiting in heaven for us, praying for us to run with perseverance the race set before us (Heb 7:25).
Learn to Rest & NOT be Stirred Up
Learning to rest in the Lord is a lifelong journey. When we are young in the faith, trouble quickly overtakes us. But as we grow in the Lord along life’s journey, we begin to see the hand of God in our lives and learn to rest in Him. This is the grace of God that helps mature us all. Trouble is that sandpaper that rubs all the rough edges off of us and is used by God to conform us into the image of Jesus. Resting in the Lord means “Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Instead of holding on to all your troubles, we must cast them before our Savior who loves us and cares for us.