By Greg Laurie
There was a time when those of us in the United States lived in a bubble of sorts, feeling as though we were somehow immune to problems around the world. We would flip on the television and watch the news as we ate dinner. Then we would move on to our favorite program and forget about what we had just seen. But ever since 9/11, that has all changed.
We are living in frightening times. All around us there are threats of violence on a scale like we have never seen before. Alcohol and drug use, both legal and illegal, has gone up dramatically since 9/11. It is because people are afraid. And they have good reason to be.
More than two thousand years ago, Jesus’ disciples were afraid. Jesus had dropped a bombshell on them that turned their world, as they knew it, upside down. They had just received the unnerving news from Jesus that he was going to leave them. But then he went on to share some words to calm their troubled hearts. I think the words of Jesus ring true in light of what is happening in our world today:
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:1–3 nkjv).
Jesus began by saying, “Let not your heart be troubled.” Another way to translate this phrase is “Don’t be agitated, disturbed, or thrown into confusion.” Jesus didn’t say, “Mull over your problems.” Rather, he said, “Don’t be troubled.”
Life is filled with trouble. It seems that once you have one problem resolved, three more will takes its place. The book of Job says that “man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward,” and that is so true. There are all kinds of troubles in our lives. There are health troubles. There are family troubles. There are boyfriend troubles. There are girlfriend troubles. There are financial troubles. From the moment we come into this world, it seems, there are all kinds of troubles.
There are reasons to be troubled in life, but there are greater reasons not to be. Jesus gave three reasons why we don’t have to be gripped by fear, why our hearts don’t need to be agitated and stressed out, and why we can find hope in hopeless times.
Jesus told his disciples, “Believe in me.” What was he really saying by implication? He was saying that he was God: “You believe in God, believe also in Me.” In essence he was saying, “I haven’t brought you this far to abandon you now. I know what I am doing. Believe.”
Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever had something tragic, radical, or earthshaking take place in your life? Your world as you knew it changed within seconds. That is what the disciples were experiencing. They were in a state of panic. What was going to happen to them? What about the future? What were they going to do?
There are times in our lives when things happen that we just don’t understand. We don’t know why God did a certain thing or why he did not do a certain thing. When I don’t understand something about God, I always try to fall back on what I do understand. I do understand that God loves me. I do understand that he is looking out for me with my best interests in mind. I do understand that no matter what happens, he is going to get me through.
There is nothing too hard for him. There is no problem so complex that he cannot unravel it. There is no addiction so strong that he cannot deliver someone from it. Jesus is saying, “Believe in me. I can get you through your problems.” That is where it starts.
Deep inside of us there is a sense of something more in life that drives us on. No matter what experiences you have had, no matter how wonderful they were, they were just a glimpse of what is still ahead. You are really homesick for a place you have never been before. That place you have never been is heaven. We were wired this way.
Interestingly, the Bible doesn’t tell us that much about heaven. There are some descriptions of heaven, but not that many. One of them is when the apostle Paul had the unique experience of dying and going to heaven and then having to come back. Paul didn’t go into great detail about what he saw on the other side, but he said this much: “I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell” (2 Corinthians 12:4 nlt). We can only imagine what the apostle saw. It is very hard to wrap our minds around it.
The Bible says that God “has put eternity in [our] hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 nkjv). This simply means there is a sense in us that there is more to life, and that is what keeps us moving forward. It is sort of like the homing instincts we see in the animal kingdom. We see it with the salmon making their way upstream with such determination. We see it in the way the swallows return every year to San Juan Capistrano. They have a homing instinct.