I have put off writing about chapter 16 of John because my reading of this chapter evoked quite a bit of emotion. This is what is amazing about the Word of God. It is living and active.
Hebrews 4:12 (NASB)
12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
I’ve read this chapter of John many times in my life, but this time the truth sent chills down my spine. Living. Active. Unfortunately, all too many of us treat the Bible like it is an inanimate object. We leave our Bibles in the car so we have them on Sunday for church. Or we leave them on the shelf where we dust them off occasionally when we feel guilty.
And now there is a new generation of ‘Bible owners.’ How many Christians have the Bible with them at all times on their phones and yet they spend more time reading the tweets and status updates of virtual friends than they do reading the words of the Friend that laid down His for them?
The week I read chapter 16 was a week I had anticipated for over two years. My brother and his family were returning from overseas. Since they have been serving overseas for over 10 years now, being away from them for so long is not a new thing for me. However, the events of the past two years were heart-wrenching for our family and the two years seems like an eternity.
Two years ago they were home and my sister-in-law was pregnant with a much anticipated baby girl. They had to return overseas before the due date, so I said goodbye thinking that I would not get to hug my sweet new niece until she was two years old…this was not a fun thought to ponder. However, what I did not know at that time was that I would NEVER get to hold her. Little Daisy died in her mother’s womb just weeks before we were expecting to get to welcome her into our family.
Less than a year later we got the news from my brother that they were pregnant again. Our family was excited, but with great reservation. I would be lying if I said I spent every day confident that the Lord would see to it that everything would be okay this time. All our family could do was to daily give the battle over to the Lord and trust that He would give us the strength to fight the mental, emotional, and spiritual battle that the next months would bring.
Many of you reading this know the results. This March a precious baby boy was born. Yet, within hours that little baby was in a fight for his life. The details of this story could fill a book and I do hope that some day my brother chooses to write the events down for the world to read.
Two weeks ago, I held in my arms beautiful, healthy baby Isaac.
Why does John chapter 16 prompt me to share that story with you? As I read through that chapter, I remembered an email I got from a dear family friend during the week in March when we felt like we just might have to say goodbye to yet another baby.
I don’t remember the exact words of the email but it expressed the same thoughts I was feeling. “I am a little ticked off at God right now! Seriously. Enough!. Jeremy and Pam have been through enough. Infertility struggles. Traumatic birth of their second son. Going through a miscarriage while living in the villages of the Himalayas. Selling all their earthly possessions time and time again to follow the Lord. Burying a beautiful baby girl in a foreign country. Enough. God, it could NOT be in Your will for them to have to bury yet another child. If there is anyone that deserves a smooth, stress free pregnancy, birth, and healthy child it is them.”
John 16:33 (NIV)
33 “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.”
As I read the final verse of chapter 16 I thought of my sweet brother and his family. I thought of the disciples to whom Jesus was saying these words. All had literally given up their earthly families and possessions to follow Jesus. And yet, Jesus says that they will have trouble in this world.
Though for a moment back in March I was a little angry about the trouble that my brother was facing, as I held sweet baby Isaac in my arms I rejoiced in the truth.
As I rocked him back and forth, oh how I so desperately wanted to tell him that he was safe now. That now no harm would come to him. However, those are promises that I cannot make to him.
Instead, I can promise to him the truth of God’s Word…which is living and active in the life of his family…. “my sweet nephew. In this world you will have trouble, but just as your parents did…take courage. Jesus has overcome the world! Don’t listen to false teachers with empty promises. The only true peace in this world filled with evil and pain is the peace that comes from knowing that in the end…Jesus has given us victory!”
Sleep in heavenly peace my sweet child….