“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
According to the Scientific American, elephants are truly amazing creatures because, although they have dismal eyesight, “they never forget a face.” They use their other senses to store memories of other elephants, the locations of food and water sources, and the whereabouts of safe territories. In fact, their long memory plays a significant part in how elephants survive.
Open the Eyes of Our Hearts, Lord
As elephants have their limited physical eyesight, our hearts can have a type of limited spiritual vision. We often cannot accurately perceive our present circumstances, much less our future. Like elephants and their senses, it’s essential for us to cultivate our spiritual memories, a storehouse of God’s faithfulness, that fosters our true hope in Christ—an appreciation that can last our entire lives.
When Jesus spoke to His followers in John 16, He was not merely giving them knowledge of what the Father would and could do for them. Jesus was moving His followers to total trust with a longer memory of the goodness and sovereignty of God. Before giving them peace, Jesus told them that trouble would come. This can seem like an odd way to comfort someone, but Jesus did it to remind them, once again, of God’s sovereignty. For us to experience the peace of God, we must have genuine humility and utter desperation for Him in the midst of our overwhelming emotions.
Jesus’ words ring throughout the centuries into our hearts: “Take heart; I have overcome the world.” Only God has overcome the world (vv. 31-33). What a powerful and promising statement! Nothing else has overcome the world; therefore, nothing will overcome you! The only reason we can have peace is because God is in control.
The world will tell you to “overcome” in your own strength and try to control your circumstances and emotions in your own power or with your own devices. This is not the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The only way we can overcome is by the power of God through Christ in our lives. The Gospel demonstrates that we have a problem—we are infected with sin and separated from our holy God. Yet, God in His rich mercy, gave us His Son’s resurrection from the dead to prove that He has overcome the world, including our most downcast emotions.
The overcoming Jesus, described in John 16:33, is both for today and for the future. Today, as believers, we can overcome sin, temptation, and despair through Christ, knowing that one day, we will overcome Satan and the kingdom of darkness through the final victory of Christ.
Remember the Goodness of God
Though we may have the spiritual eyesight of an elephant, we need the memory of one to remember the goodness of God, even in our darkest moments. He is still good. He is still in control. He is still the One we need to fix our eyes upon, in faith, as we hold onto hope in our Savior Jesus Christ.
What are the area(s) in your life where you’re trying to overcome, in your own power, instead of with the power of Christ? How are you trying to control your circumstances and emotions rather than tapping into the life-giving truth of God’s power?