“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Those words from our Lord have quieted many hearts and calmed many souls. From the grim news of cancer, the loss of a job, or the death of a loved one, we are all too familiar with the reality of the world’s tribulations. But do we have enough familiarity with the One who brings peace?
As someone who has been a Christian for over 40 years and a pastor for 30, you might think I’ve got this one figured out. I know how it’s supposed to work: as long as I abide in Jesus, I’ll have His peace. Jesus has overcome the world, and so He can overcome whatever issues, challenges, or struggles I face. I know the “right” answer, but knowing what’s right and living it out are two different matters.
Trust is a hard thing, especially in today’s day and age. I still struggle with trust. That’s normal and understandable. However, what's abnormal, is when I transfer any lack of trust I might have in people or situations to God.
I know in my head that God is faithful, trustworthy, and true, but at times I still find myself lacking trust. Do I really believe that God will ultimately make “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)? My head says, “Yes.” But often, my heart says, “No.”
How do I close that twelve-inch gap between my head and heart? I have to let my heart inform my head but not control it. To put it in the words of C. S. Lewis, “The heart never takes the place of the head: but it can, and should, obey it” (The Abolition of Man, 30).
The Bible abounds with exhortations concerning how our minds are not just the seat of knowledge but the center of faith. We are to set our MINDS on the things of the Spirit, which brings life and peace (Romans 8:5-6). We serve the law of God with our MINDS (Romans 7:25). We are to be transformed by the renewing of our MIND (Romans 12:2). We are to have the MIND of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). We should not let our MINDS be hardened (2 Corinthians 3:14) but be renewed in the spirit of our MINDS (Ephesians 4:23).
The heart is not relegated to second-class citizenship, but much of the Christian life is fought on the battlefield of the mind. Again, the heart should inform the head but not control it. The head should guide the heart as our minds are set on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2).
Practically speaking, this means I have a choice to make, as do we all. What will I decide? For decision ultimately comes from the mind. Will I decide to trust in Jesus and take Him at His Word? I acknowledge (which is a mental word) that this world has tribulation, but I equally acknowledge that Jesus has overcome the world. I may still face trial, danger, and strife, but the peace that calms my heart comes from my head deciding to follow Jesus.
I’m still learning, and perhaps you are, too. But hopefully, we will discover that some of the most life-changing truths are not complicated to understand even though they may be difficult to obey. Trusting Jesus is one of those truths.
I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.
--William J. Kirkpatrick, 1882