In the World You Will Have Fear

Samuel Rindlisbacher

Jesus Christ says, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).

Tribulation has many faces. In some Bibles (the German Bible, for instance), it says, “In the world you will have fear.” We can fear losing our job, or not being able to keep up with the demands of our society. We can fear not receiving our pension when we are older. We can fear sickness, an old age of chronic illness. Then there is the growing fear of immigrants, the slowly increasing domination of other cultures. Since 2015, Germany has taken on far more than a million people seeking asylum, and the stream of immigrants is not stopping. This produces fear, even if many politicians do not want to accept this. It is the fear of not knowing how things will turn out, fear of uncertainty and the increasing Islamization of the West, with all the consequences that are perceptible today.

Fear partly belongs to our lives: as Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation/fear.” He does not stop there, however, but adds, “But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” Jesus is here. He not only knows our fears, but also He is ready to help. He knows the way out.

King David also knew fear. As a shepherd’s boy he was despised, was openly ridiculed by his wife; he was pushed from the throne by his own son, and threatened with a life or death situation. We find David’s motto in his “diary,” in the Psalms where he says, “Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek” (Psalm 27:7-8). In his fear, David goes to God; he consciously seeks the nearness and comfort of God. “Hide not thy face far from me: put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation” (verse 9). And while he does this, he is able to experience what he himself says, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psalm 27:13-14). What a comfort, even if we are forsaken by everyone else! We can take refuge in Him, and He leads us on the right path.

We can practice this; turn our eyes on Jesus and look to Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith. We should learn to think differently, “…Be not confirmed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2a). Let us take care how and what we think, then, seeing that our thinking influences our behavior.

Realistically, the future may not look very bright; but with Christ at our side, we have His glorious promise, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). As children of God we are not left to fate, at the mercy of nature; our life is in God’s hands. He is the beginning and the end, of our life also. He is also the Lord over our fear, and He will return.

It is as an old German hymn says, “Look for Jesus and His light; nothing else can help you.” As Christians, we have a wonderful comfort and a glorious hope. At His last Passover feast before His betrayal, the denial, His terrible death on the cross, and being forsaken by His Father, Jesus said to His disciples, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). With this, Jesus expressly reminded His disciples of the events and His words at the last Passover meal with them. Jesus wants us to keep the last hours before His path of suffering in mind (cf. John 13—17).

Because our Lord knows that we are humans with fears, troubles, trials and limitations, He did the following, “He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded” (John 13:4-5).

The Lord was performing the duty of the lowest slave here. He wanted to say to us, “Even if I know who you are and know your weaknesses, I am still prepared to serve you, prepared as the lowest slave to wash your feet, to wash the dirt from the street and forgive your mistakes and sins.” He calls to us, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I wold have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3). Christ wants us to look to Him, to heaven; that we do not dwell on our problems but look upwards, to the goal, where our true home is; that we await Him and expect His return. It could be today!

Jesus Christ dwells in every born-again person through His Holy Spirit. He is there and He will never go away, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16; cf. verse 18). Only God Himself can give His disciples peace in the midst of fear and tribulation, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27).

This is a twofold peace—on the one hand, peace with God because our guilt is forgiven, our past is cleansed, and the future is in His hands. It is the peace of which we read, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). On the other hand, it is the peace that God gives us in the difficult situations in our lives. It is the peace of which Paul says, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15). It was this peace that Stephen experienced in the face of death (Acts 7) and which made Paul sing in prison (Acts 16).

Further, Jesus said to His disciples, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:1-5).

We may abide in Jesus. He cares for us. He has taken over the responsibility for us. The Father is responsible for our care and nurture, and we may simply abide in Him. He simultaneously gives us the guarantee that, if we are children of God, we will reach the goal. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (John 15:16).

This abiding in Him has nothing to do with effort. Rather, it is about going through the day with Him, living for Him, reckoning with Him, going to Him—even when we have fallen flat on our faces. It is as Paul said in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” It is the life out of Him; out of His Word, the Bible; out of the union with Him through prayer; the life out of the power of the Holy Spirit in us. (I cannot do it—but He can!)

I wish you this with all my heart; that even if we live in this fallen world, you can still experience what the Lord Jesus said, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Midnight Call - 01/2018

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