“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.” (John 16:33 NIV)
As I write this article, feeder bands on the trailing end of Tropical Storm Fay are streaking through the tri-states area, creating more havoc than did the leading edge of the storm. The local radio stations have been crackling with news of closures at some area schools and daycares, as well as frequent weather updates. Once or twice during the morning the familiar, and somewhat unsettling screech of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) has echoed across the airwaves with warnings of imminent danger from severe thunderstorms, and possible tornadoes in some of the Wiregrass region.
As I considered the information issued by the EAS and mentally plotted my own proximity in relation to the warnings, I silently thanked God that we have such technology. Then I began to think about how fantastic it would be if the same technology could bridge its way into our personal lives. Wouldn’t it be great to be forewarned about the potential tragedies and storms of life before they blew into your midst?
In a way, that’s exactly what Jesus did in our Scripture from the Gospel of John. While far from specific, His warning about trouble is one that should not be glossed over. It is an assurance that our life in this world is a life into which rain will fall, a life into which storms and trials will come.
Once again, the EAS is activated and the computer generated voice gives the location of a coming storm, and estimates times that it may cross certain areas. It urges us to stay away from windows, to seek the shelter of sturdy buildings, and to remain indoors. It tells us where to go to find a safe, sturdy place into which we can retreat, and ride out the storm. In much the same manner, that’s exactly what Jesus’ words say to us.
Notice that Jesus never promises that he will take us out of the storm, nor does he say that if you follow him you’ll never experience the storms of life. Jesus simply tells us that in life’s trials and tribulations, he is our shelter, he is our peace, he is our safe-haven. Why? Because he has overcome the world and its storms, and he has done so for our benefit. When we try to overcome the world we fail. But when we embrace Jesus, his victory becomes our victory.
When we come to Jesus in faith, and take shelter in his triumph, then the peace of which he speaks becomes our peace, in spite of the best-of-the-worst-trouble that this world has to offer. Remember Jesus’ words from Matthew’s Gospel, “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
In Christ, and Christ alone, do we find shelter for our soul.