Grieve and Take Heart

Grieve, and Take Heart

By Adam Gray

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 NLT

These are the last words that Jesus speaks directly to his gathered disciples. Then he will pray, and when he is finished praying, he will be arrested, betrayed by a corrupt system, and then tortured and brutally murdered by an authoritarian government. Jesus’ words seem to make no sense here. He hasn’t overcome the world, but rather the world is about to crush him utterly.

Today we mourn the triumph of racism, sexism, and homophobia over our hopes of inclusion, affirmation, and equality. We live in a country where most Christians believe my black and brown siblings are less worthy, that my LGBTQIA siblings are disordered rather than glorious, and that my sisters should not shine forth in their full potential to speak and lead. Today we mourn, today we are afraid, today we feel the temptation to give in to despair. But Jesus says to take heart.

It is not that Jesus is denying our grief. Instead, Jesus knows that his disciples will have many trials and sorrows in this world. Jesus is present in our grieving and our fear. What is special here is that Jesus knows our grieving hearts perfectly and still calls us to something better. Jesus calls us to take heart.

If the death and resurrection of Jesus mean anything, then they mean this: that when our hope is dead and buried in the ground – hope for acceptance, justice, equality, and mercy – when the person in whom you put your hope seems utterly defeated, when you’re overcome with fear and hiding in a darkened room, that when all hope seems lost God’s story is not over. In fact, God’s story is only beginning. Jesus’ death was not the end of all hope, but rather the beginning of the renewal of all things.

So grieve today for the death of hope like the disciples did on Holy Saturday. It is right and good to weep and mourn for the brokenness in our world. But take heart, for Jesus has overcome the world. We believe that there is a time coming where Jesus’ perfect government of justice and peace will have no end. That reign of God is coming, and it is already among us in a thousand acts of justice and compassion and truth.

So until that day comes, wait and work for that peace that Jesus promised. Take heart, for our Savior has overcome the world.