I avoid pain. For years I denied this simple fact about myself and how I would react when I saw, or heard of something on the news or in my sorority that made me uncomfortable- something that had the potential to shake me to my core. Racist incidents in the Greek System, my own sisters battling with cancer, and mass shootings flooding the news from all over our country and world were only a few examples of the reality that streamed from the news and my own chapter.
Surrounded by my sisters, it was easy to ignore the pain. After 3 years, I had become an expert avoider. Avoiding looked like scrolling through social media and escaping discomfort through a “fun time” with my chapter. When tragedy or heartache came my way, I felt alone, helpless even, without words or emotions to make sense of my experience. So I did what I knew best, I looked the other way.
As I began to follow Jesus and got to know him in greater depth, his invitation for me was to sit with the uncomfortable and to bring pain and hurt and injustice to him. I had to wrestle with the emotions and fears that I had bottled-up for years. When I searched my heart, I discovered the true core of for avoidance: I was scared that Jesus didn’t care about the pain and heartache in my life, in my chapter and in the world.
In this passage from the book of John (an eyewitness account to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus), Jesus speaks to his followers about the Holy Spirit, an advocate who provides peace that nothing else can offer or compare with.
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
CONSIDER THESE QUESTIONS
1. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in v. 26?
2. What kind of peace is Jesus offering? How is the peace Jesus offers us different from what the world offers?
3. How do you react when you read of or experience something that causes your heart to ache?
4. What are you most afraid of? What effect does fear have on you?
5. Where do you desire peace in your own life, your chapter or in the world?
Some days it seems as though the current reality in the world, our own lives, and the lives of our brothers and sisters is overflowing with heartache and pain. We can’t seem to escape tragedy and the fear it reveals in our hearts. It is easy to avoid, to look the other way. But Jesus has true healing and freedom for us, to know him more deeply. If we look at the places of fear and pain in our hearts, he is faithful to give us the peace we long for.
There is good news in the midst of pain, hurt, and disaster. As Christians we are given the Holy Spirit, which is God living in us. Because of the Holy Spirit, we are never alone and we are always equipped, especially in times like today when evil appears to have a grip on our world. God is here and he is living among each of his followers, granting us strength and giving us resources to bring hope and healing to our world.
The Holy Spirit works in our lives to provide us with deep and lasting peace. This peace is assurance in any circumstance. When we experience the peace Jesus offers, we have no need to fear the present or the future. If you are holding onto fear today, consider how your life might look different if you asked and trusted the Holy Spirit to fill you with peace.
As we present our fears, our pain and our heartache to Jesus, may we rest in full assurance that he hears us, he sees us and he waits for us to enter into his presence seeking peace, hope, and healing without fear.
How might God be inviting you to surrender past pain or current heartache to him? What freedom might you experience by surrendering your burdens or the hurt you are carrying?
But I called on your name, Lord, from deep within the well, and you heard me! You listened to my pleading; you heard my weeping! Yes, you came at my despairing cry and told me, “do not fear.”