Sometimes in life the goodness of God appears dark. Some of life’s realities, i.e. disease, death, injustice, broken families, cloud our view of God and we fight with unbelief and discouragement. Our struggle might involve our own sin or suffering because of the sins of others, or perhaps the reasons remain a mystery with God.
Sometimes God’s goodness seems dull. We know ‘what’ we believe, and we pursue the behavior of faith, but we seem to lack fruitfulness and joy, and wonder if we are living the abundant life God promises (John 10:10).
As Jesus, the God-man prepared to die He gave His followers promises for life after His departure. Amazingly Jesus even told His disciples that it was better He leave than stay, because His departure ensured the coming of the Holy Spirit who continues the ministry of Jesus in all who believe (John 16:25). In the Gospel of John (primarily chapters 14 – 16) God’s work in us occurs not just because Jesus departed, but because of all that God accomplished for us when Jesus died, rose again, was exalted, and now reigns over all the earth.
In multiple passages God indicates the promise of Jesus’ reign gives us hope and strength to live as broken but blessed followers of Jesus in a sinful world. Hence, Jesus told His followers just hours before He left them, “Let not your heart be troubled,” and He knew the intense persecution and martyrdom that awaited them. He tells us to not be anxious (Matthew 6), to cast our cares on him (I Peter 5), to trust His sufficient grace when we despair to the point of death (II Corinthians 1) and to rely on His strength in our fight against sin (Hebrews 12).
In John 14-16 Jesus describes the life we enjoy with the Spirit He sends to us. He promises peace, joy, love, and fruitfulness along with trouble and persecution. He promises all who believe in Jesus, a life that points others to Jesus. He assures us that the Spirit will convict sinners (even friends and family we deem past faith) and bring life in accord with God’s sovereign wisdom. Jesus knew life with His Spirit after Jesus returned to the Father surpassed life with Jesus before He died. Our challenge involves reading and living these promises in John chapter 14 to 16, and experiencing the life Jesus gives us because He reigns!