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Have you ever been stressed out to the max? You know – one of those days when everything went wrong? And then, when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it got worse?
We live in a stressful culture. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that up to 90 percent of visits to physicians in the U.S. are triggered by a stress-related illness. In 2010, there were 46 million prescriptions given for Xanax.
In the United Kingdom, cameras have been installed just about everywhere to make people feel safer. But then a lot of Britons are nervous about the cameras, and it makes them more paranoid. So it has sort of worked against them.
Life is filled with trouble, and there are a lot of troubled people. But more than 2,000 years ago, Jesus gave the cure for heart trouble. Here is what Jesus says to people who want peace: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would 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 to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1–3 NKJV).
Jesus had just dropped a bombshell on his disciples. He had just revealed to them that he would be arrested, beaten and crucified. For them, it was a worst-case scenario. All they heard was that he was going to leave them. They did not understand that he was going to the cross for their sins and ours and would rise again from the dead. All they heard was that he was going to leave them.
So Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” The word troubled could be translated “agitated,” “disturbed,” or “thrown into confusion.” A loose paraphrase would be, “Guys, don’t freak out. It’s all right.”
Why not panic? Why not be afraid?
We can take God at his word. If you want to get rid of your heart trouble, your stress and your fear, then take God at his word. Jesus said, “You believe in God, believe also in Me.” Do you believe in God? I don’t mean simply believing there is a God, but knowing God in a personal way.
Actor George Clooney once told a reporter, “I don’t believe in heaven and hell. I don’t know if I believe in God. All I know is that as an individual, I won’t allow this life – the only thing I know to exist – to be wasted.”
Kevin Costner is more hopeful on the topic. He said in an interview, “I have always wanted to believe that there is something more to life than what we have here on earth.” When asked whether he believed in heaven, Costner said, “I desperately want to! I mean, I really want to believe that a part of me will continue on after this life and that there’s more to me and to this life than just what’s here on earth. Yes, I want to believe.”
Jesus says to them and to everyone else, “Believe in Me.”
We will experience tragedies in life. But even when tragedy strikes, God can bring good despite the bad. It doesn’t mean that bad becomes good. Bad is bad, and tragedy is tragedy. But despite that, God can bring beauty out of ashes. The Bible says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
But notice it says, “All things work together to those who love God” (emphasis added). You have to love God first. Do you love God? God loves you. He loves you no matter what you have done. Here is what Jesus was saying to his troubled disciples (and to us): “Believe in God. Trust that I know what I am doing.”
I have found the Scriptures sustaining me through the hardest times of my life. I have hope, and if you are a Christian, then you have hope. The hope for me is that I will be reunited with my son Christopher one day in heaven. I will see him again. He is not just a part of my past, but he is also a part of my future. The hope of the afterlife is the hope of every Christian.
In many ways, this is the before life. This is sort of a small section, and the big section is later. It is like going to the movies and watching a preview. The main event is still to come. In reality, life is like a preview, and the main event is the afterlife. You decide where you will spend eternity.
Heaven is as real of a place as Los Angeles or New York or Chicago, but it’s a whole lot better. Heaven will be the greatest things we love about our favorite cities but without the bad parts. Heaven is an actual place that we will go – if we trust in Christ. As C. S. Lewis wrote in “The Great Divorce,” “Heaven is not a state of mind. Heaven is reality itself.”
That is why nothing that this world offers will satisfy – no amount of money, no sexual experience, no drug and no degree hanging on your wall. Deep down inside, we are longing for heaven.
When you know there is a heaven, it helps you deal with the pain of life, realizing that no matter what hardship you may be going through, it is nothing compared with this great hope. The Bible says, “Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT)
The good news is that the word oops is not in God’s vocabulary. He is in control. So take him at his word.