We have a dog named Bravo. He looks like a German shepherd but he is considerably smaller which leads us to believe he is a mixture of breeds. He is a good dog, very loving especially of my youngest daughter who walks him often and pets and plays with him regularly. But Bravo’s specialty is that he is an escape artist of the first order.
Because my wife is allergic to pet fur, Bravo must live in our spacious back yard. But since we think one of his mixtures must be a hunting dog, he hears and smells things and so must escape to find out what it is that is outside of the fence. He doesn’t get far, but we are not sure he will not find his way onto the busy streets that are close to us, or he might be a nuisance to one of our neighbors or that other dogs or wild animals might hurt him; so we find him and bring him back. Then we must find his escape route and plug it up. I’ve lost count of the ways he has escaped and we laugh about it, a family joke. What motivates us to undertake such a tiresome thing?
If we can use this as a metaphor for our world today, there are many disconcerting things going on that should cause any believer in Christ much distress. The moral fabric of our nation has been irretrievably torn and we stand at the precipice of the collapse of our society. We can no longer trust the media to tell us the truth which lies outside of their anti-Christian political perspective. Law and order has been torn asunder by those who seek to re-structure our nation into their political ideologue. Our election system has been hijacked to produce a predetermined outcome and therefore can no longer represent the consent of the governed. At night, sleep becomes more difficult and I find myself seeking my Lord and Savior asking what can be done.
He answered my query as He always does, with His own Word. The NKJV of John 16:33 says “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.””
This verse forms three neatly divided thoughts of this message from Christ, that it is profound in its simplicity but also in its depth of meaning. First, that the teachings of Christ bring us peace. This peace is not based on our success, but, as we will discover, on His success. Second, we can expect suffering or tribulation in the world in which we live. This message is common in the sayings of Christ, so much so that we should not expect anything less than trouble in this life, if we are living out our faith properly. Finally, the encouragement from the Lord in that we should be happy about the expectation of suffering rather than dread because, Christ has overcome the world. This last message is not that Christ will eventually overcome the world in the sweet by-and-by or at the end of the age but that He had already overcome the world.
Take note that Christ had not yet been to the cross, he had not yet walked the Via Dolorosa but at the time Christ spoke these words it was a fait compleit, it was finished at Christ’s word. This has profound implications for us as believers, even in the present day in which we find ourselves. If you have the notion that things are off the rails, if all is lost, quite the opposite is true no matter what happens next. No amount of suffering, no persecution we will face can ever change the fact that Christ, the author of our creation, has overcome the world.
This also means that leaders, no matter how corrupt, no matter how they hate The Lord and believers, they are on a leash. They are under the control of Christ. No matter what our leaders may threaten, they are on a chain, and the one holding their restraint is – God Himself. They do not like to hear this, but they are powerless to do anything more than God allows them to do. Whatever evil they plan or actually carry out will be met with clear justice and they will know that they are guilty and will stand silent before God’s throne. So we, believers in Christ, should be of good cheer. The song plays, “I can face uncertain days because I know my Savior lives.”
Luke was our dog before Bravo. We could let him free to roam because we knew him and had confidence he would come home and lay once again at our back door. Bravo is learning and one day we can let him roam free but for now our love holds him in the back yard and we will fix any hole he makes to escape. As long as he is in the protective yard he is safe, just as we are safe in the hands of the Lord.
So when we hear things, smell what’s coming or see the horrors that unfold, let’s stay in the peace that Jesus brings to us. We know that when we stray, Christ will find us and bring us back, but instead, let us be content in the protective hands of the Lord and be of good cheer, because He has overcome whatever there is in the world that threatens us. Amen