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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“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)
I think most of us can say we’re pretty well acquainted with the term “troubled times.” Not only because of the obvious state our world has been in for the past year, but because throughout all of our lives we will walk through some dark valleys.
In John 16, we find Jesus speaking with the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane before being arrested. In the face of death, Jesus turns to His disciples and reassures them that regardless of the guaranteed trouble they will face in this world, they can have joyful courage and peace because He has already overcome the world!
Although this Scripture must undoubtedly be a source of hope and strength for us, we inevitably will still feel defeated or discouraged when facing those difficult trials. We’re only human after all. It’s easy to look around and feel as if God is silent or inactive, but we’re not the first to feel this way. The Bible holds numerous stories of people who have also felt isolated or abandoned by God but who, as a result of their patience and faith, heard His voice, experienced His presence, and received His strength and peace in ways they never could have imagined! A great example of this is actually seen through the birth of Christ.
Have you ever wondered what happened between the Old Testament and the New Testament? There was a time gap of about 400 years between the time of the prophet Malachi and the prophet John the Baptist. This gap is known as the Intertestamental Period. Still, it’s also referred to as the 400 years of silence because God didn’t communicate to His people directly or through specific men like years before. Though they continued to serve and worship God, they experienced many trials as various empires came to rule them. From the Persians to the Greeks to the Romans, Israel endured various rulers, some of which persecuted them and destroyed their temple. Though not all of their rulers were harsh and disrespectful towards their faith, they each influenced the culture by introducing their sinful and dangerous way of life to the people.
However, God had a reason for His silence during this time; for allowing His people to feel frustrated, alone, and unseen. It may not always make sense to us, but our Father’s ways and thoughts are both incomprehensible and always good.
In today’s Scripture verse, Jesus paints a clear picture of this truth. He tells His disciples this metaphor to describe what they will experience in the following days: “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world” (John 16:21 NIV).
Christ knew they would experience heartbreak, grief, and confusion in the face of His death. Yet, He also knew the outcome of His resurrection and the downpouring of the Holy Spirit would surpass the pain they had experienced and would experience in the future.
Although there were 400 years of silence, the Lord broke them the night Jesus entered the world. He knew the perfect time to send Jesus as the Messiah. And now, when we feel abandoned, we can look to the empty grave and see that we have Christ with us always! He has overcome, delivered, and redeemed.
Although the most beautiful and worthwhile gifts and experiences indeed result from difficult and unpleasant processes, we must also remember that Christ still left His disciples with the assurance that even during the most difficult processes they could still experience His peace and hope! Now, in our seasons of silence, Jesus breaks in with His promises and power again and again. May we find comfort in knowing that He will faithfully grant us His gift of peace in times of trouble.
Samy Rodriguez has been serving with the Calvary writing team since 2020 as a senior at Calvary Christian Academy. Before going to study communications, biblical studies, and intercultural studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, she interned with the Calvary Communications Team and was a student leader in HSM (High School Ministry). She is passionate about communicating God’s Word and looks forward to continuing to serve in ministry after college.