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)
These words were spoken by a man being pursued by authorities who wanted to put Him to death (John 11:53-54). More to the point, He knew they would be successful in their wicked endeavor (13:1). Try to imagine what your response might be under such circumstances.
Jesus’s response was not only to speak of peace, but to offer it to His followers.
He wasn’t whistling in the dark either. He goes to the garden where He prays that not His will be done, but His Father’s. He’s marched through the sham of a trial and maintains His poise and confidence in God. On the cross, He asks that those who have taken part in His impending death be forgiven. At death He commits Himself into His Father’s hands. What kind of person acts this way?
One who knows peace.
And He wants us to have this peace. But make no mistake about it—we won’t find it anywhere else—it’s His peace. He told His disciples, “In Me you may have peace” (v. 33). In 14:27 He said, “My peace I give you.” It’s His peace it’s only available through knowing Him.
But if we are in relationship with Him, we can have peace even though everything isn’t alright. After all, Jesus possessed it despite the many troubling things that happened to Him. And troubling things will be part of our lives as well. He told His disciples, “In this world you will have trouble.” Being a disciple doesn’t give us immunity from pain, hardship or disappointment—but it does mean we can have peace in the midst of these things.
And if we can have peace when everything isn’t alright, then we can have peace about anything. Paul found peace about his past. Before he became a follower of Jesus, he was involved in persecuting followers of Jesus “to their death” (Acts 22:4). After he became a disciple, we can only imagine the pain he must have felt because of what he had done. He would have met the families of people he had helped be put to death and known that they were without their spouse, father, mother, sister, or brother because of his actions. He knew the depth of His sin—but He also knew the grace of God meant anyone could be forgiven of anything and this brought him peace (1 Timothy 1:12ff).
Paul also had peace when he faced uncertainty about the present and future. He wrote to the Philippians while imprisoned and unsure about what would happen next (1:20, 27). In the fourth chapter, he tells the Christians there not to be anxious about “anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (4:6-7).
In the end, peace isn’t based on the chance that everything always works out okay (good luck with that). It about making the choice to follow the One who has “overcome the world” and offers His peace to us (Acts 22:16).