"I have told you these things so that in me, you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
We all have battle-cry speeches etched in our minds from films over the years. The famous Braveheart "Freedom" speech, the "St. Crispin's Day" Speech in Henry V, ... For me, it's a scene from The Untouchables, the story of Federal Agent Eliot Ness and his war to bring down Al Capone back in the '30s. Capone was the mastermind behind a Chicago Mob that had so crippled the city with fear, it seemed unstoppable. Until one idealistic man and his small team decided evil had reigned for long enough. In this iconic moment, the agent finds his close friend and mentor barely alive after being shot by Capone's men. With his last breath, the masterful Sean Connery pulls Ness close, relays a vital piece of information and garbles out the same pointed question he had asked before they took on Chicago's notorious mob: "What…are you...prepared...to do?"
It's a scene that kind-of describes how I feel about our world these days. Satan just seems to be winning...everything. The daily images I'm subjected to are far more graphic than that scene from 20 years ago; what the world tells my children is normal sickens me; and it's difficult to fight the feeling of hopelessness when I read about horrors happening around the globe. Honestly, some days I want to throw my hands up and say 'I'll never fix this; I quit'. Like Eliot Ness must have felt as he watched his mentor die for a cause they were losing badly. No doubt, that's why his wise friend used every ounce of energy left to remind Ness of this: they had always known they were walking into battle. They signed up for it. They coaxed it out. And they knew all along that standing up to evil is ugly business. At that moment, nothing was more important than giving a final admonition to his young friend "Don't you dare let them make you quit."
Recently, I was having one of those 'What's the point' days when I read John 16 and was so humbled. The verse above is not just about keeping my head up, as I often use it. These were some of Jesus' last words to His disciples before He was arrested and crucified; this was our Lord's battle speech before leaving his team in the middle of the field without Him, literally. Notice he didn't say "You MAY have trouble". It's a definite. They were going to have trouble. You and I will have trouble. But in those next seven words, He gave us everything we need to handle it. "Take heart; I have overcome the world." Let that sink in for a minute. I. HAVE. Overcome. The. World.
I feel like right this second, the Lord is pulling His Church close and asking: "What are you prepared to do?" It's clear that our battles won't be easy and He makes no promise to shelter us from them. We may lose relationships, respect, worldly gain; we may feel alone against forces that seem unstoppable. Because His answer is not to pull us out of the fight; it's to gently remind us of our focus. "I have told you these things so that IN ME you may have peace." There it is. No matter how overwhelmed we are by the chaos of our world, we can't let it cloud what really matters -- we already KNOW who wins the war and we can rest in the fact that we will be with Him for the victory dance.
So as we navigate this broken place, be encouraged - you're on the winning team! You'll be celebrating with our Savior someday at the greatest party ever. The question is, until that day comes, will we keep fighting? Will we sacrifice to stand with Christ? If it comes down to just you or just me, are we willing to point a scarred and messed-up world to Him, no matter how many of its battles we lose along the way?
What are we prepared to do?