Acts 6:1-7, Peter 2:4-9, Gospel, John 14:1-12
In The Times of Trouble
During one of my days in the country where I am, I had a first-hand experience of what it means for someone to be truly troubled.
If you have not experienced a traumatic situation, you may not know what those who have experienced such are passing through.
This happened in the year 2020. It was the first time in my life I had experienced an Earthquake. The natural disaster happened around 3.18 am, my room was shaking. My door and bed were moving up and down.
I was thrown in fear, I did not know what to do.
I thought of running but everywhere was shaking. The only thing that came to my mind was my rosary. I rushed to it and held my bible, calling Jesus and His precious Mother Mary to come to my rescue. Thanks be to God the disaster did not then last up to 5 minutes.
It was highly traumatic because at that point I began to think of many things.
After the incident, I thought to myself, this is the situation of those who are victims of traumatic situations, just like during the pandemic scare, you would not know what might happen next.
When such things happen, telling them “do not be troubled” may not suffice for them. They need something more assuring. The fact is that the focus of this statement is not really on the statement, the focus is on the person who said it and why He said it.
This is also truly the situation of the disciples as Jesus prepares them for the agony that He is going to face.
The disciples were afraid of the unknown and then plunged into fear and anxiety. They do not know what might come against them. This is the scenario that is playing out in today’s gospel.
The only encouragement that is left for them is just Jesus. They were encouraged because the words were coming from their trusted master Jesus. In today’s gospel, Jesus encourages them by saying “Do Not Let Your Heart be Troubled” He says to them“Do not be afraid, I am He (John 6:20, Matthew 14:27).
Therefore, in times of trouble, let us be closer to Jesus. In times of trouble, let us trust that His presence is always with us.
Practical Approach In Times of Trouble.
In the first reading, a little trouble began among believers. There seemed to be a skirmish between the Hellenists against the Hebrews.
In the daily distribution of food, they complained that their widows were being overlooked. Imagine how the situation might be and how it would look if it was eventually mismanaged.
The apostles rose to the situation and settled the matter with the appointment of people around them who they believed are full of faith and the Holy Spirit.
They chose the people who despite the problem that may arise in the group will remain resilient, because of their strong faith in God.
This indicates that the Life of a leader sometimes partially and wholly influences the life of his followers.
This also teaches us that a leader should be a man of strong faith in God, who leads his people in faith and justice.
The only thing needed when a country, a state, or a family are passing through troublesome situations is simply leaders whose focus is on God and who will remain strong in what they believe can save the people.
We need leaders whose focus is to save situations. We need leaders who can lead His people out of bondage.
Therefore, in times of trouble, we need selfless leaders and people whose intention would be how to ameliorate the problems of the people.
Just like the apostles focus on how to save the situation during their time, every family, association or organisation should always focus on how to save troublesome situations.
The apostles teach us that we do not have to fold our hands and allow evil to reign. We have to always come together and find a way out of them.
When the problem arose in the early Christian community, the disciples did not allow the problem to continue. In the same, let us not allow problems to continue.
In times of trouble, we need people whose intention would be only to save the situation at hand. We do not need people who will like to gain from the situation.
Therefore, we do not need people who will fold their hands or close their eyes and allow evil to continue because it does not concern them.
We want people whose intent is to serve, whose intent is to put all they have and make sure there is calmness. This is also the role that Jesus is playing today in the gospel.
He knew the problem that is coming, Jesus takes His time to prepare, teach and guide his disciples on what to do when the time comes.
We need Faith In God during A Difficult Situation.
In the gospel, Jesus tells his disciples, “I will be with you a little while longer and where I am going, you cannot come” (John 13:33).
The point is that Jesus is telling them about the agony He is to undergo. So, for the disciples who leave everything to follow Jesus, it must be disheartening to hear Jesus saying that He is leaving them. What would be their fate?
It was a troubling situation and quite traumatic. Sometimes the reason we face uncalled trauma is that we are unsure of what the future would bring. This is exactly the situation in the gospel.
2. In the face of great bitterness, in the face of the pending disaster, Jesus says “Believe in God. Believe also in me.” The secret is still faith. Faith, because Jesus knows deep down within Him that He is not going to abandon them. Jesus is not going to abandon us also.
He is not going to abandon you. Believe always in His presence. When all hope is hanging, the only hope left for us is Jesus.
Though the words of Jesus sound so encouraging, it is still like a command, the only antidote in suffering or in times of trouble is to “Believe in God and keep working your way to survival.
Jesus knew quite well that the disciples were afraid and had reasons to do so but Instead of making their fear the more, Jesus called them to faith. He does not ask them to be afraid, rather He asks them to keep their faith alive. Let us Keep our faith strong still. Faith is the secret.
In The Times of Trouble, Remember This.
Whenever we are told not to worry, we worry anyway. This happens especially when we don’t see any good things forthcoming, despite our efforts and prayers.
In today’s gospel, Jesus calls the disciples to believe, not because of the situation but despite it, to be assured of things hoped for, and to be convinced of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
It was that kind of faith that led Abram to follow God without knowing his destination (Hebrews 11:8-12). We need this kind of faith. This is that faith that makes us remain still and calm because we know deep down within us that God is in control.
Therefore, beloved, in your times of trouble, God is still with you. The shaking at the moment is for a shift, who knows what God is bringing forth?
Let us keep our faith, faith as a gift can never go unrewarded. It brings forth something new at the end. We are encouraged not because of the statement, but because God is highly involved. And God never disappoints.
2. When we obey Jesus and trust Him during the times of trouble and worry, our worries lose their power. If, indeed, “all things work together for good for those who love God” (Romans 8:28), what do we fear?
If God is for us, what does it matter who is against us? (Romans 8:31). That kind of faith triumphs over fear. God promises never to abandon His disciples both now and forever. They may suffer now but not forever.
Jesus says today, “I am going to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also”.
3. Therefore, this shows that Jesus is not abandoning his disciples. His impending death is part of God’s plan but is not the final act.
Everything happens according to the will of God. We may be passing through difficulties now, but it is not the final act and neither will it be eternal. Only in the hands of Jesus can we be saved.
Jesus is the Way to the Father.
Thomas asks “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?”. We must admire Thomas’ questioning.
After the resurrection, Thomas will not believe the testimony of those who claim to have seen the risen Christ, and he will be bold to tell them that he does not believe (John 20:24-31).
Today, The same Thomas does not understand the way and is bold to ask for clarification. Teachers love students like this. Thomas doesn’t understand but is willing to risk embarrassment in his pursuit of understanding.
Let us be bold to approach the presence of God for more clarification. Jesus responds, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”. Therefore, let us trust the way.
a. Jesus is “the way.” If we ask for directions and someone tells us to turn left or right at the same time, we are likely to get lost.
However, if the person leads us to the destination, we are assured of getting there. That person becomes for us, the way. Jesus does not simply point us to the Father, but He is the sure pathway to eternity.
b. Jesus is “the truth.” The Bible says that the truth sets us free (John 8:32). Therefore, Jesus has come to set us free from every satanic and evil bondage.
c. Jesus is “the life.” For the Jewish people, the Torah was the book of life. It instructs people in life-giving faith and practice. Now Jesus becomes the life-giver. He says, “I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
What these mean is that closeness with Jesus, faith in Jesus and belief in His ever-abiding presence can be our stronghold in times of trouble and fear.
Jesus can deliver us from our fears, challenges, addictions, false hopes, sins, curses etc. Jesus loves us even while we are still sinners (Romans 5:8).
He brings us back to the Father. He says .“No one comes to the Father, except through me”.
Therefore, Jesus is the source of grace in times of trouble. Refusing Jesus is also refusing the grace that He offers. He is the channel of blessing and grace. Let us always approach His presence.
When Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”Jesus says to him, “Have I been with you for such a long time, and do you not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father.
Therefore, Jesus is one with the Father and the surest way to have an encounter with the Father.
The Way to the Way.
Jesus finally gave us the way to the way. He reveals to us the way to have easy access to Him, and this is to pray and do everything in His name, believing totally and strongly that He can do what we ask for.
To pray in Jesus’ name is to bring our prayers into accord with the essential character of Jesus.
Praying in Jesus’ name, then, is not a matter of whether we include the formula, “in Jesus’ name” at the end of our prayer. It is rather a matter of discipleship.
Praying in Jesus’ name is praying for those things that Jesus can gladly bless.
To pray in Jesus’ name means that we be in a close relationship with him. It means being close and very connected with Jesus.
What is Troubling You?
Stop for a moment. Let me ask you “What is making your heart troubled today? What is causing you sleepless nights?
The hurt of those disciples that night was no different from the hurts you experience today. Jesus was telling those disciples to give Him those “troubles” that were boiling over their hearts. Therefore, let us hand these troubles over to Him always.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not be troubled; trust in God and trust in me”. We need total trust in God whenever we find ourselves in challenges. Whether it improves or not, hang your faith there. The hour of surprise remains unknown.
1. There are some moments when our hearts are so much troubled; they are
When we are not certain of what might befall us in the future. The disciples were perplexed and fearful and Jesus had told them earlier, “Where I go, you cannot come.”
Peter asked, “Where are you going?” Thomas said, “We do not know why you are going, how can we know the way?” This explains how distressed they were.
Their future seems to be unknown. Whenever we are so unsure of the future we worry so much about what might befall us.
Jesus says today “let your heart not be troubled despite that. Therefore, when you have the temptation to worry, choose to remain still, instead of worry.
2. The disciples of Jesus had good reason to be “troubled” because Jesus talked about leaving them and going where they could not follow.
Jesus sees in their faces that night faces clouded with confusion, hurt, disappointment, fear, frustration and bewilderment. The thought of losing Jesus was all over their faces.
This is what truly happens to us when we seem to be losing our positions, relationships, loved ones, money, business etc we become so worried and distressed. Jesus encourages us today to be calm and put all our trust in Him. Let us not lose hope yet.
Therefore, when we seem to be losing something or somebody, there is always a reason to worry and be troubled in the spirit, but we have to be still instead of worrying.
3. Today, Nothing characterizes the fear of the disciples more than this; they are losing their master. That was their trouble. It seems to be a hopeless situation.
They may be asking questions like Who will feed them again? What of the kingdom they were expecting? Can they succeed without Him? Won’t the Jews laugh at them at last? These are the type of questions we ask ourselves when we seem to be in hopeless moments.
The question of what can we do now? Therefore, When we think all hope is lost, Jesus is assuring us to be calm despite the trauma. We need to be still because that will be the time that we can receive inspiration on how to come out of the situation.
4. The disciples may be thinking that without Jesus things may be so difficult for them. They were deeply concerned too about the suffering awaiting the Messiah. In moments of suffering and difficult situations, let us always be calm.
Sometimes, we deeply worry over the situations we encounter in life. We lose faith because of the difficult journey we plunges ourselves into, and by the things awaiting us. Jesus says to us put all your trust in Him. Do not die in worry.
5. Today’s gospel is Jesus’ farewell discourse. He speaks with words of encouragement and assuring presence to the disturbed disciples. There are no maps, no compasses, only Jesus. He is the true guide.
Remember that Jesus did not promise them freedom from their troubles but He assures them of His mighty and Divine Presence amid these troubles. He told them He would be with them in the midst of their troubles.
He is going to be their strength and guide. This in essence teaches us that God does not promise us a life without challenges. Therefore, when we encounter challenges, let us not think that God hates us. Life is not a bed of roses, but Jesus promises us that with His grace and ever-abiding presence, we shall always remain victorious.
May God bless you dearest and give you the grace to overcome all your challenges Amen