Let not your hearts be troubled?

Published 1:36 pm Thursday, May 11, 2023

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Several years ago now, a Harvard Business publication called Geeks and Geezers offered a study of two generations of exceptional business leaders. To me, at least, this was a fascinating book. One group were those who were aging out of their work lives and had achieved great things. 

The others were the very youngest of entrepreneurs who had managed to somehow jump the planes of age and time. They had already achieved at a high level, either by the size of the companies they had started, or by the worth of their companies, or both. 

It was an expansive work. The authors thought it would turn out to be a contrast piece, showing the vast differences between how these two generations did things. They figured it would expose the obvious enculturation differences that affected how they worked or how they viewed the world in which they worked. 

Instead, the longer the authors interviewed these leaders, the more fascinated they became with the similarities they observed. One of the many shared traits was the ability in crisis or failure to sit in the figurative ashes and already begin to plot their next move. Somehow, in the midst of their inevitable or occasional failures and hardships, they managed to still envision a new dream and mentally prepare for their next chapter. 

I find that fascinating to read about. Inspiring even. But for the rest of us, John 14: 1-11 might have a helpful word during the Lenten season and beyond. Let me ask you: when have you had a moment or a season, where things were so tough such that “it,” whatever it was, was all you could see at the time? 

The words that Jesus spoke were intended to make their way into the living of our days. They were about here and now. Laced in a promise of someday, the bulk of these words hoped to shape our meantime. 

Jesus’ farewell discourse is where we find ourselves today. These were his parting words to his followers. They were a prophesy of his own impending arrest, crucifixion, death and resurrection, as well as the ascension. He was helping them to be ready to experience what was to come. 

Jesus was talking a lot in those days about his impending showdown with Jerusalem, if we string together his conversations in the Gospels. His followers didn’t want to hear much of what he was saying on the matter. 

Denial can be such a powerful shaper of how we think and how we hear. But he was talking about it. Their crisis didn’t start when they were locked in a room after the crucifixion. 

Jesus was ramping them up toward an age that would function without him present in body. They’d heard this before. This was a journey they weren’t wanting to take. This was a journey their imaginations, maybe even their faiths, didn’t have the capacity to picture just yet.

The bereaved will understandably take a deep draw as Jesus speaks of another place, another day and the arrangements that have been made. He even reassures that, if all of this is so, he will be sure that they have a chance to one day go and be where he is. 

It’s no wonder some of us have, and will again, leaned on that dimension of this scripture. It is in some ways the bedrock of our eternal hope. He was simply trying, in his farewell discourse, to prepare his followers. It tells us what’s ahead for us in the rich but challenging days left in this season. 

These words have power far beyond the funerals, too. That’s when so many of us journey with these words most often. They could speak into the moments, the seasons and even the years where we feel like we’re stuck. 

Jesus’ assurances here might reach us as we are feeling bored or unmotivated. They are rich for the times when we feel we are living without purpose or use, abandoned or unappreciated.

In my own journey, I have wondered “How long, Lord?” Like me, maybe you have wondered “why?!” You may have cried out for God to show you a reason to hope. I have pleaded with Jesus to do his will, and be sure not to just do mine. Even though my own will at the time was to start a new chapter.

Let not your hearts be troubled. These are guiding words for the ages. They are loving words of nurture for us. 

Dr. Charles Qualls is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 757-562-5135.