When You’re Troubled in Spirit
Often, especially these days when there is so much pain in the world and even in my own life, I feel troubled in spirit. Even though I trust God and know that he’s in complete control of my life, my circumstances and my future, I can still be grieved by situations.
Someone’s actions or betrayal may hurt me. Sorrow grips my heart when I learn of a loved one’s struggle with tragedy, illness or death. Perhaps a difficult choice weighs on me—I know the best thing to do means putting aside my own wishes to uplift someone else.
But today, I read something that relieved me.
“Jesus was troubled in spirit.” John 13:21
Jesus? The Son of God, Jesus? God himself, Jesus? That Jesus?
I don’t know about you, but that brought a thrill of hope to me. See, those words come right before he told his disciples that someone would betray him.
I’ve been betrayed. Jesus knows how I felt.
Then I remembered a couple of other times that Jesus felt troubled. When his friend Lazarus died, Jesus wept. And the hours before he was crucified, he prayed, sweating drops of blood because he was “deeply distressed and troubled.” But how can I be a Christian, trusting in an omnipotent God and be troubled?
How could Jesus?
Jesus knew the outcome of Judas betraying him. He knew he’d be tortured and hung on a cross. But he also knew he’d be alive again. And when his friend died, Jesus knew he’d be raising Lazarus from the dead. So why was he troubled if he knew that good was coming?
And if I trust God and know good is coming why would I be troubled?
Emotions are God given. When life happens, we feel joy, excitement, surprise and sometimes grief, sorrow or even anger. Feeling emotion is obviously an experience Jesus can relate to. We are created in his image so why wouldn’t we feel those same emotions?
And yet, the next words of Jesus seem contradictory.
He tells his followers to not let their hearts be troubled. But I believe he’s saying it as an encouragement rather than a command. Maybe what he’s saying is don’t allow your hearts remain troubled. Feeling troubled is normal, but staying troubled will not be helpful.
So, what do we do with a troubled spirit?
In John chapter fourteen, Jesus reminds his followers that they can trust him, and he assures them of their future with him. He also promises the Holy Spirit—a counselor or helper that will guide them, or us, through life.
And finally, he gives us peace.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
I believe he’s telling us that even when we feel troubled in spirit, which we will, we don’t need to continue feeling troubled or afraid because we can trust him to take care of everything no matter what our situation looks like. We can rely on his spirit to give us peace in each circumstance.
Each time Jesus was troubled, he spent time with his father, God.
God waits for us to come to him in the same way—bringing our troubled spirit, our grief, our sorrow and laying it at his feet so he can exchange them for his peace and promise for our future. When we remain in his love for us, we can rest there and not allow our hearts to remain troubled.
If your heart is troubled as mine has been recently, I invite you to join me at the Father’s feet laying down our situations and picking up his peace and his promises for our future.
Let’s remain in his love.
If your heart is troubled, I’d love to pray for you. Would you let me know in the comments below or email me at email@example.com
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