Pastors Pen
February 2023
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” In John 14:27, Jesus’ words are comforting and challenging at the same time. Comfort comes from the gift of peace, which comes from Our Savior; He is the one who conquered sin and death on our behalf. The Bible and our communion liturgy both share Jesus’ acts of love, compassion, comfort, and mercy. Jesus healed the sick, fed the hungry, and ate with sinners. Jesus is the Healer and Provider. He is also comfortable eating with us “sinners”.
Jesus’ words in John 14:27 can be challenging to hear when He tells us: “Let not your hearts be troubled neither let them be afraid.” Raise your hand if you are asking yourself how Jesus can say that; go ahead and raise your head — no one will see you. You also may be asking yourself how it is even possible to live without fear and anxiety. Look around — there are many reasons for being anxious, fearful, or depressed. In Philippians 4:5-6, the Apostle Paul makes this audacious statement to the Philippian Church: “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Jesus and Paul can make these seemingly unreasonable statements because Jesus is our rest and our mighty fortress. When we read the book of Acts and Paul’s letters, we see that Paul lived what he professed and believed. He was shipwrecked, beaten, and stoned; he said he knew what it was like to have plenty and to have absolutely nothing. Yet, Paul learned how to rejoice, to trust, to rest in Christ, and to walk in the peace of Christ instead of being consumed by fear and anxiety. How was this possible? He continually poured his heart out to the Lord no matter the issue; the Psalm writers did the same thing.
Sadly, guilt can pile on and intensify despair. Guilt can come from within our inner thoughts; this may sound like “I am a Christian, so I should not feel depressed or anxious” or “I am such a disappointment to Jesus”. It is even more painful when feelings of guilt come from foolish statements from misguided and misinformed people; these people can add to the pain with statements such as “Christians cannot be depressed” or “If you had faith, you would not feel this way”. Please hear me — I am not suggesting that Jesus is fine with letting us writhe in our fears. Additionally, I am not saying to disregard the Bible’s call to not be anxious. However, I am saying that this starts and ends with Jesus.
Psalm 34:17-18 tell us that “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” In Isaiah 42:3, the Prophet Isaiah has hope for God’s people — including you — when he stated that “A bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not quench; He will faithfully bring forth justice.” When our lives are bruised to the point of great despair, or when we are at our weakest, we are beautifully promised that Jesus will not kick us when we are already cast down. Similarly, when the flame of our faith is about to be extinguished, Jesus will not blow the flame out. In fact, Jesus does the exact opposite; we are showered with His unconditional love, grace, and mercy! “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Amen!
Rest in the peace of Christ,
Pastor Steve