Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled

Let not your hearts be troubled.

Jesus tells his disciples this as he is preparing for his painful, ignominious death. He has such a short time to tell them everything they will need to know when he is gone. There is still so much to teach them! How could he be so calm? And how could he ask that of them, in the midst of the very real trouble surrounding them? Jesus’ friends surely knew that the religious leaders were closing in, that they wanted blood, that the end was coming.

Let not your hearts be troubled.

Forgive us, Jesus, but we just can’t. The world outside our homes is scary right now. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, or a month from now. The circumference of our lives has grown very small and dim. Forgive us, Father, but we don’t have enough faith for this. We are troubled. Very troubled.

Let not your hearts be troubled. 

What can we do when we are overwhelmed with anxiety, uncertainty, fear, or even just social distancing-induced boredom? We open the word of God. We pray, and for once, we listen. We preach to ourselves. We remind ourselves of the words spoken by Jesus, for whom imminent death was preordained, and on whose perfect obedience the fate of the entire world rested.

Let not your hearts be troubled. 

Oh, but our hearts. There’s the trouble right there. Jeremiah tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Desperately sick. That’s timely.) And in that seething little pit of deception, we let our misguided feelings and desires hold sway. We are troubled. 

Let not your hearts be troubled.

Paul Tripp writes this: “We tend to live with the anxiety and drivenness that come when we believe that all we have is this moment. Here’s the real-life, street-level issue: if you don’t keep the eyes of your heart focused on the paradise that is to come, you will try to turn this poor fallen world into the paradise it could never be. In the heart of every living person is the longing for paradise. We all have this longing, even when we are not aware of it, because it was placed there by our Creator. He has placed eternity in each one of our hearts (Eccl. 3:11). Our cries are more than cries of pain; they are also cires of longing for more and better than we will ever experience in this fallen world.”

Let not your hearts be troubled.

If this world feels broken, it’s because it is broken. And I’m not talking about coronavirus or global climate change or the kids these days, I’m talking about sin. About the record scratch on creation that happened when sin entered God’s perfect world, and the groaning and longing for paradise that all created things have been crying out ever since.

Let not your hearts be troubled.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians that the Lord “will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.” Father, what is the purpose of this sinful, deceitful, anxious heart? To long for eternity. To be so broken and hopeless that we can never know peace except through the heart-transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

Let not your hearts be troubled.

But how do I do it, Father? How do I tap into that stream of living water? I am so thirsty. I am as dry as bone. I am dust, and to dust I will return. How can I still my trembling heart? The word tells us: “[D]o not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). There it is again. We do not let our hearts be troubled. We pray. We ask. We thank. And then peace so miraculous we can’t even understand its depth or reach will guard our troubled hearts.

Let not your hearts be troubled.

There is no surgical face mask or antibacterial soap that will take away your fear. The fear lives inside you. In your heart. It is the fear that the world is all wrong and it is out of your control, and these things are both true, and that terrifies us. Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). We are all sick. We are all living under a death sentence. Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on us, sinners all.

Let not your hearts be troubled.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:4-10).

Let not your hearts be troubled.

There are no more words to say than have been written in the word. We were dead. But God. Grace. Kindness. Christ Jesus. In everything by prayer. Peace. Let not your hearts be troubled.

Written By: Jess Upshaw Glass

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