Daily Devotionals

Do Not Be Troubled

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Scripture: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”– John 14:1

Friends, I wish I could say that my heart is not troubled. But I would be lying. My heart is deeply troubled. As I write this, we are still learning about the latest mass shooting, which took the lives of 19 beautiful and innocent children, along with two of their courageous teachers. This is on the heels of a hate-filled, racially motivated shooting that took the lives of black grandmothers, fathers, mothers, siblings, and friends, while they grocery shopped on a Sunday afternoon. God, have mercy on us all. Especially have mercy on those families who have lost loved ones in these senseless murders.

Forgive us, God, for our idolatry to everything (guns, power, money, fame– just to mention a few) instead of you. Forgive us, Lord, for being so concerned with our own lives and individual rights that we fail to do what you have commanded us to do– to love you and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

I know that God’s heart too is deeply troubled and grieved by all of this injustice, evil, and violence. And if, as Christians, our goal is supposed to be to emulate Christ, then we should be grieving and troubled as well by anything or any action that troubles our Lord.

In this passage from John’s gospel, Jesus is speaking these words to his disciples to comfort them. He has just told them he is going to die and predicted both his betrayal by Judas and Peter’s denials. He should be angry and sad (and maybe he is) that he is going to be betrayed by his closest friends and going to die a brutal death, but instead, Jesus responds to their dismay and confusion with love and compassion. He comforts them and tells them to trust, both in God and in him.

Trust God? How can I do that when evil seems to be winning? How can I trust you, Jesus, when the world around us seems to be spinning out of control?

I can imagine that the disciples felt the same way when Jesus told them that he was going to die– their world and their lives felt like they were falling apart. It took them some time and a visit from the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to finally get their act together after Jesus’ death and resurrection. But that ragtag group of disciples eventually decided that they could trust God– and in so doing –they went out and changed the world. Mind you, they didn’t stay home and just pray for change– they got up off their behinds and trusted God to work through them to change the world– one day, one community, one person at a time.

I, too, want to change this world into one where children and teachers aren’t murdered in their classrooms and one in which we all can see the image of God in all human beings, regardless of skin color. A place in which each of us shows love, compassion, and comfort to those in our world who so desperately need to be loved and comforted. But lately, that seems like an overwhelming task, and when I feel overwhelmed, I often am unable to act– not knowing what is right –not knowing what I can do that will make a difference.

However, if I read this passage from John again, Jesus gives us the answer. Our first act is not to do, but to trust. We cannot do anything without first putting our trust in God. When we truly trust God, we then realize and acknowledge that we were never in control anyway. That should set us free to listen for God’s call and direction for our lives.

I’ll be honest. Some days are better than others for me when it comes to my ability to trust God. I am a sinful and selfish work in progress. But my soul is never more in danger than when I am no longer troubled by, become numb to, or am unwilling to speak out against hate, violence, and evil. God calls us to trust in him. God also calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Especially the overlooked and forgotten neighbors– those who are powerless and weak, lonely or depressed, mentally ill or disabled, the elderly, or the very young.

I am still deeply troubled, but I think God is OK with that. The key is that I cannot stay mired in my “troubled heart.” I must step out in faith daily to trust God, remember and believe that God will redeem everything, and make all things new one day. We all have a lot of work to do to help reshape our country and world. But we can do small acts of kindness and generosity that God can multiply. We can be open to the direction of the Holy Spirit and ask God to give us the energy to lead with love to transform our world, one day, one community, and one person at a time.

Prayer:    Heavenly Father, soften our numb and calloused hearts. Let our hearts always be troubled by injustice, violence, and evil. Help us to always trust in you, even when we cannot make sense of the world around us. Give us courage and energy to respond in ways that make a difference for our world and that glorify you always. Amen.

Submitted by Ginger Bates