In an age of information-on-demand, we have all of the conveniences of instant communication. And we also find ourselves with more stress in our lives than ever.
In the old days – before e-mails, cell phones and text messages – you would have to "dial" someone on the telephone, or maybe even write them something people used to call a "letter." (Remember "snail-mail"?) And then the technology improved, and they came out with this device called the fax machine. Remember when it first came out? We all thought that was so amazing. Then came the cell phone. I remember a friend of mine had one of the first ones. It was about the size of a World War II walkie-talkie. A gigantic thing. But it was so impressive because now you could take this five-pound "portable" cell phone with you wherever you went. I think it had a battery life of 20 minutes or so.
Now everyone has cell phones, and most people are on them almost all the time. I have an iPhone that enables me to get more information more quickly, giving me the potential for stress 24/7! Because we do live in a stressful world, don’t we? There are so many things that can cause us to worry.
Studies have suggested that high levels of stress and worry can actually lead to a number of diseases, including heart attacks, ulcers, depression and nervous breakdowns. Even some cancers can be traced back to excessive anxiety. I read the other day that up to 90 percent of the doctor visits in our country may be triggered by a stress-related illness.
With the ever-present threat of terrorism hanging over our heads, there are so many frightening things in our culture right now. Troubles. Worries. Disappointments. Uncertainty about the future. The Bible tells us that "man is born unto trouble."
Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ prescribed a cure for troubles of the heart. It was on a night when He gathered with His disciples for a meal in an upstairs room. Something was in the air that night, but the Lord’s followers weren’t quite sure what. Then Jesus dropped the bombshell. He would be betrayed by one of them and denied by one of them. Then He gave them the worst news of all: He was going to leave them. He would soon be seized by the authorities and put to death on a Roman cross.
At that point, the world as they knew it came crashing down around their ears. They couldn’t understand it. Knowing His men were stressed to the max, Jesus shared a few very significant words to bring them hope. He said: "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 unto Myself; that where I am, you may be also" (John 14:1-3, NKJV).
That word "troubled" could be translated "agitated," "disturbed," or "thrown into confusion." Another way to say it would be, "Don’t let your heart shudder." Jesus was saying, "It may look like your world is falling apart and darkness is about to overtake you, but don’t let your hearts be troubled."
The disciples couldn’t understand how His death on a cross would be a good thing. It was the belief of many that Jesus would establish His kingdom on earth, overthrowing the tyranny of Rome, and that everyone would live happily ever after.
They didn’t understand that Jesus had chosen to go to the cross and die for the sins of the entire world. In fact, there was no other way mankind could be reconciled to a holy God whom we have offended through our sin. So He was saying, "Guys, trust Me. I know what I am doing."
First He told them, "You believe in God, believe also in Me." Jesus was saying to each of us that we need to believe God’s Word. Maybe it seems as though your world is falling apart right now. You have recently received some bad news, or don’t understand why the Lord has or hasn’t done what you were expecting Him to do. Like these disciples, we need to believe God’s Word to us.
We need to understand that in the Bible, we have a book we can trust, a book that tells us how to live and how to get to heaven. This is the user’s manual for life that we’ve all been looking for.
The Bible says of itself, "All Scripture is inspired by God. It is useful to teach us what is true and make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out. It teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do" (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NLT).
His second word to them (and us) was about heaven. If you are a Christian, no matter what happens, you are bound for heaven when you die. You have God’s Word on it. Talk about good news! Jesus said, "In My Father’s house are many mansions" (John 14:2). When we die, He has a place prepared for us and a new body prepared for us in heaven. It will be wonderful beyond your wildest dreams.
Heaven is God’s promise for every believer. Eternal life with God is not for every man and every woman, but only for those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ.
Finally He told them, "I’m coming back again." Someday – maybe sooner than we think – Jesus will return to this earth and establish His kingdom. Are you ready for that day? He is coming for those who are watching and waiting for His return.
Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people. If you want to take a flight out of Los Angeles or Atlanta to someplace else, you buy your ticket ahead of time. You don’t just impulsively head for the airport one morning and wander up the jet way onto a plane. You make careful plans, because you want to be sure of your destination.
Do you have your ticket? Do you have your reservation in heaven? Do you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you will be with Jesus the second you depart this life? These are things you can know for sure. And in a world of so much trouble, stress and uncertainty, it’s a great comfort to have that boarding pass securely in hand.