John 14:1. The troubled heart

14:1    “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.

We live in a therapeutic age where every problem must be soothed with specialist care. We have doctors of every kind of speciality, carefully trained and highly skilled in their particular area. And so, for every challenge in life we expect our wonderful medical system to bring rapid relief. Anxiety is a complicated condition. There are depths to many people’s experience of anxiety that require careful and skilled attention. But there are also many anxiety producing circumstances in life that our instant therapy mindset has left us unprepared or untrained to address. So much therapy has diminished our resilience. When unwelcome change happens we instinctively call for the therapist. But Jesus has a different prescription.

At the beginning of John 14 the disciples hearts are stirred up and troubled. It is clear to them now that Jesus is leaving; that his death is imminent. In response, Jesus urges them to believe. “Believe” is doubled up for emphasis. Believe in God, believe also in me. The antidote to anxious and fearful hearts is faith.

The mood of the word “to believe” is ambiguous— either imperative (I command you to believe) or indicative (you do believe). Most translations pair the indicative with God and the imperative with Jesus, urging the disciples to put their faith in the Son in the same way it is already in the Father. But it is possible that both verbs could be imperatives. In the face of fear and trouble, they are urged to put their faith in both the Father and the Son. Either way, the antidote to fear is faith.

What does this faith look like? Paul writes to the Philippians addressing the same problem of the anxious heart. He says,

Philippians 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The faith that responds to fear turns to God in praise, rejoicing in his majesty, greatness and power. Remembering that the Lord is near, that faith then turns anxiety into prayer and thanksgiving for God alone is sufficient for every circumstance. Bringing every request to God opens the door to such peace that is above and beyond human understanding; peace that guards our hearts and minds against a wavering faith that has lost sight of the one in whom it is rightly placed. The antidote to fear is not therapy. It is faith in God.

Dear God, you alone are worthy of my faith. You are utterly trustworthy. When unwelcome changes cause anxiety to rise, grant me that inward knowledge that you are near, you are in control, and that you are bringing about your perfect will. Amen.