Pastoral Letter 07 Jan 2024

My dear readers,

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

John 14:1-4: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 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. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.”

When we enter a dark room, we expect darkness. We enter a jewellery shop and expect to find jewellery. If we want groceries, we go into a grocery store. In this troubled world of sin, evil and wickedness, should we not expect to find trouble in our lives? Yet this truth eludes us. We think there will be peace and tranquillity in a troubled world! This inconsistency in expectations has ruined many lives. Emotional turmoil and mental anguish have haunted many because of this false expectation. They could not cope with the disappointment no matter how hard they tried. Homes are places of quarrels, but they expect peace. Workplaces present a false image of a harmonious environment when, in reality, they are pseudo-battlefields where only the battle-hardened will survive! The no-holds-barred life of a wrestler awaits all born into this sin-filled world. Wanting to create a world of restful peace, and expecting it to be such, is wishful thinking and unrealistic.

Expecting a complex and troubled life is realism.

The disciples of Jesus Christ enjoyed a life they could never have imagined during the three years they followed Christ. They walked and ate with Him. They observed His perfect life. They obeyed all that Jesus taught them. Jesus shielded them from all harm and danger from their enemies. It was paradise on earth, obeying every word of Christ. Then Jesus told them of His impending betrayal, persecution, death and resurrection. Their tranquil life was all but over! Jesus calmed their troubled hearts with four excellent chapters of instruction and comfort in the book of John, chapters 14 to 17. He began with: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1).

John 14:1a is Calvary Pandan’s theme for 2024: “Let Not Your Heart be Troubled”. We are living in the last of the last days. Two thousand years have passed since Jesus warned us that the last days are here. Acts 2:17-21: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Troubles will abound. Troubles cannot be avoided as children of God serve and witness for Christ in this sin-filled world. To expect otherwise is delusional. God’s children need to prepare spiritually for these last days so that when troubles abound, they will know how to respond and hold on to their holy witness with courage from God.

What the Lord said to His disciples helped them and will help all believers in troubled times.

The source of trouble is the heart. Why? Troubles are all around us externally. Very often, the troubles are not controllable, for they are in the hands of others. For example, your colleague in the workplace says that you are diligent and hard-working because you seek a promotion, even though you seek only to glorify Christ. There is nothing you can do to stop him from saying what he believes to be true. How can one prove what is in one’s heart? You work hard in your company, and it goes bankrupt because of the economic forces plaguing the world, like higher oil prices or wars in distant lands that negatively affect the world’s economy and plunge the world into a global recession. We are helpless to do anything to remove or diminish these troubles.

However, as children of God, we can respond to troubles correctly. It begins with the heart! We must consciously protect our hearts by trusting God and not allow invasive sinful thoughts to creep in and destroy the peace we have received from God in Christ. No one can deliver his heart from troubles. Troubles abound the moment he wakes up from sleep. The cares, burdens and troubles of this life fill his mind. It appears that only in sleep is he spared. However, the child of God need not flee to “sleep” to get out of trouble. He must run to God. God will surely help him overcome all troubles.

But believing in God alone is not enough. His belief in God must be through Christ. Christ is the key to overcoming all troubles in life. Walking with Christ and in His footsteps, the disciples learned this truth for three years. The way to continue this peaceful experience is still in Christ, even after Christ left this world and returned to heaven after He completed His mission to save the world from sin. That was what Christ meant when He told them to keep believing in Him and all they had learned from Him.

His departure was not desertion. His departure was preparation! To emphasise this truth, Jesus said that in His Father’s house are many mansions, i.e. accommodations. These are places of abode for all of God’s children. But Jesus must go to prepare these heavenly places for them. The preparation Christ referred to was His persecution, death and resurrection (victory over death on believers’ behalf through His substitutionary atonement). If Jesus did not go, there would be no salvation. His earthly perfect life in obedience to God’s laws must end with His death! He must die for believers so that believers need not die for their own sins. His death was temporary so that all believers need not die, but to heaven they will enter. If Christ were to go, He would surely return to bring them all to their heavenly accommodations.

The reunion with Christ will be a blessed one. It will be forever. This parting is for the moment. The disciples did not need to be fearful of anything or anyone. Christ’s departure and return to heaven guaranteed their reunion with Him. The disciples knew Christ was returning to heaven. They also knew how to be with Him in heaven as they were all believers in Christ. Judas Iscariot was excluded when Christ said these words of comfort as he had already departed to betray Christ (cf. John 13:26-30).

What troubles a disciple’s heart? Some of the most significant troubles that frighten disciples are at home, work, school, poverty, sickness and death. Because of the finished work of Christ and His resurrection, every born-again disciple need not be troubled, i.e. to allow their heart to be agitated. They can overcome all their troubles in Christ as God’s children, with God as their heavenly Father protecting them, for Christ has already overcome all of them on their behalf by His life, death and resurrection. Nothing can separate God’s children from God and Christ, not even death!

Let not your heart be troubled; keep on believing in Christ!

Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,
Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew
Advisory Pastor

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