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Jesus never sugar coated anything - not for anyone at any time. John 15-16 is proof. The disciples were overloaded by hard news. One of the twelve is a traitor. Jesus would die and leave them. Just when their hearts are stunned with grief and confusion, Jesus adds this news. It is going to get worse! You will be hated by the world and chased unto death. (15:18,16:2) You will weep with sobs of sorrow. (16:20) In this world you can expect trouble and never be disappointed! (16:33) So, as I said, Jesus did not pamper His language with bubble wrap. He spoke iron words, sharp and penetrating - but true.  

You know His words are true. In this world we do have trouble. Trouble of pandemic proportions. We have fears and friction, debates and divisions. We find tension in our homes and churches, protests along our highways and borders. Symbols of power are confronted with the volume of air horns and shouts. At this moment, troops and tanks are massed, ready to pounce across international lines. We have trouble that we did not expect, that we did not create, that we do not want - but it is here. Jesus is right. Trouble comes. But along with a message that shakes us, is a promise that we need. Jesus has come to give us peace - in the midst of trouble.  

Peace is not our natural state. Our waters are not calm by default. We are moved by the winds of tribulation. We stir into billows that rise and fall, creating tides that pour around us. Our natural state is stormy. We try to hush the storm. Outwardly we present the tranquility of sunbeams, but if the pandemic has taught me anything, it is this. Scratch the surface with trouble and the fury comes out. No, as much as we want peace, it is not within us. It has to be given. Peace is a grace - a grace Jesus gives. “My peace I give to you…In Me you may have peace.” The peace of Jesus is unlike our own patchwork fix on our hearts. The peace of Jesus cannot be disturbed by any tornado of trouble. It is enough to hold the space within us and between us. It is a peace that can rule our hearts. (Col.3:15) Both promises of Jesus are true. We will have trouble. We can have peace. One is certain. We struggle with the other.   

With the promise of His peace before us, why do we lack tranquility in our spirits, reconciliation in our words, love and kindness in our actions? Because peace has to be received. It is a grace offered, but not always accepted. We prefer being right, being heard, insisting that others fall into line with our positions. We don’t want peace. We want to win. Peace requires a surrender. It comes when we submit not to a position, an argument, camp or flag. We submit to Jesus, our Lord who has overcome this world! We all believe submission to Jesus is exactly what we are doing. If it were true - there would be peace.