One of the pieces of advice young people get from their parents, teachers, and other people who play protective roles in their lives is: “stay out of trouble.” It could be possible to stay out of trouble in the sense of not intentionally looking for one, but what about the times when troubles come to you even when you do not want them? You can connect with those moments when you will mind your business and something, or someone shows up with cans of troubles. Can we not be troubled? We shall find out in this reflection.
The Gospel Reading of this fifth Sunday of Easter (John 14:1-12) begins with these words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Note that our Lord Jesus Christ was instructing his disciples, not the crowd. A careful study on the Gospels show that there are times Jesus speaks to the crowd, and at other times he would talk to his disciples as a group or to specific individuals among them
In this narrative, Jesus Christ was giving part of his final instructions to his committed followers who could relate with his words and actions. Note that he was not telling them to stay out of trouble but not to be troubled. In a later instruction from the same Gospel writer (John 16:33), Jesus says: “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.”
While we may not wholly avoid trouble in the world as our Lord indicated, it is, however, possible not to allow the troubles to overwhelm or diminish us. To avoid being troubled by our troubles, our Lord presents a spiritual facility called faith. The advanced version of the instruction goes this way: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God; have faith also in me”. Here we see that faith functions in giving us hope and calmness in the face of the troubles in our lives.
No doubt, we are currently living with the hydra-headed troubles of the COVID-19. Did we all ask for it? I would say no; unfortunately, it is with us. But here comes the big question; “how are you handling the trouble of the moment? I understand many cannot work, and finances are not coming. I imagine some of our plans may not hold because things are not adding up; in fact, the only reasonable plan anyone can have for the rest of the year is just to stay alive.
Are you troubled? If your answer is yes, then I would ask how is that helping you? Being troubled could mean that you are becoming hopeless. It could also mean that your trust level is below the minimum. Faith comes in here as our Lord Jesus Christ prescribed in the Gospel passage.
There are many definitions of faith, but the one that excites me the most, because of its eschatological relevance, comes from the letter to the Hebrews (11:1), and it says: “ Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
The above understanding of faith helps us to know that it does not ask the famous traditional questions of what, why, where, when, and how; it instead helps us to believe because God says so.
Faith made Abraham follow God’s instructions in Genesis (12:1ff) to leave his hometown without clarity about the destination. Faith made Daniel accept being cast into the Lion’s Den than deny God (Daniel 6). Faith made Job declare, “I know that my redeemer lives and that in the end, he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh, I will see God”. (Job 19:25-26) Faith made the woman with the hemorrhages of twelve years to reach to the garment of Jesus (Luke 8: 41f). What is your own story in the face of your troubles; are you fear-full or faith-full?
Do not allow the troubles around you to define you because there is an end to every one of them. In the Gospel today, our Lord Jesus Christ tells his disciples that beyond the earthly troubles, there is a heavenly reward, namely His Father’s house, which has many peaceful rooms. The good news is that we do not need to search for the way to the Father’s house. Our Lord assures us in the Gospel today that he is the only way, and when we believe in the truth of his words, we gain life.
May God grant you the grace to look beyond the troubles of the time because they have expiry dates. Instead, may we focus on the enduring peace the reigns in the eternal home, our Lord Jesus Christ has prepared for us, and may we continue to strike to secure our dwelling places in the Father’s house.
God bless you and have a beautiful day.