Fear, faith and future

– Geoff Milton

FEAR. When the future is unknown and when important things in life are cut off, we can become disoriented and the future may feel bleak. Some of that is happening to many people today because of the pandemic.

Personal tragedy can do the same.

When my mother died of cancer at the age of 61 at the same time as he retired, my father’s world fell apart. Two major pillars of his life were knocked out from under him. Something similar may have happened to you.

You may feel like that now, or have felt a bit like that in the past. You may feel far from God, alone and facing an uncertain future. You may feel like Jesus’ disciples in John 14:1-7. Jesus had just told them that one of them would betray him, that Peter would disown him and that he would be with them for only a little longer (referring to his imminent arrest, death, resurrection and ascension to heaven). Their lives were about to be turned upside down, like being in a car crash.

FAITH. In John 14:1 we see that Jesus understands their distress (and ours).

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe (have faith in) in God, believe also in me”. Jesus was challenging them -and us- to trust in the Father’s heart of compassion for his people (as seen in Israel’s history) and to trust in Jesus’ heart of compassion for his people. They had experienced Jesus’ compassion in his earthly life and it was about to be fully expressed in his suffering and death on the Cross, in order to bring us to God.

            Trusting only in human solutions in difficult times may lead us to disappointment. Let us by all means pray for the development of a Covid-19 vaccine, but there are no guarantees about when or if that will happen. But trusting in God’s goodness and Jesus’ death and resurrection to cleanse us from sin and to give us eternal life with God, is guaranteed to work. Jesus will bring those who believe to a perfect future. As we trust Jesus, faith will replace fear in our hearts and minds.

Like the thief on the cross next to Jesus in Luke 23, we need to put our trust in Jesus to rescue us in all circumstances, even from eternal death. The thief did that very simply: “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom!”. And Jesus promised him “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise”. And that was not an empty promise, for Jesus defeated death for himself and all who have faith in him at his resurrection.

We see that same explanation of saving faith in v4-6 of John 14. Thomas said to Jesus “Lord we don’t know where you are going so how can we know the way?” Jesus explained that the way to be with him is by having faith in him and him alone. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.” Putting v1 and v6 together, Jesus is asking us, even in the face of death, to trust in him alone to come and take us to be with the Father in our heavenly home. If you have never trusted in Jesus to save you from sin and death and hell, please, please do it today. Tell him you are sorry for ignoring him, thank him for dying to pay the penalty for your sins and ask him to forgive you and to give you the Holy Spirit to help you live Jesus’ way.

FUTURE. In v2 Jesus looked to the future beyond death for those who believe in him. “My Father’s house has many rooms — I am going there to prepare a place for you”. This is not about looking forward to a room in a heavenly palace. Rather the emphasis is on the privilege of living in God’s presence – with God our Father, with Jesus, with God’s people (see v23 -Jesus and the Father making their home with those who love Jesus). Jesus preparing a place for us is not about him building extra rooms and making the beds. He prepared a place for us by going, dying on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sin, defeating death and ascending to heaven to be with the Father. In v3 he promises “I will come back” (referring to his second coming) “and take you to be with me …where I am”.

May this rock-solid promise sustain you in this present crisis and even when facing death. Through faith in Jesus our saviour, our perfect future is absolutely assured.

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