Do you love burgers? How do you like it? Cheesy, beefy or chickeny? I know that is not proper, but hey, we’ve got to form some words when we are on quarantine, right? Depending on where you are, burgers come in different sizes and flavours. When I was in America, I enjoyed Chic-Fil-a’s “Spicy Deluxe Chicken Burger” with lettuce, tomato and pepper jack cheese. Here in Kenya, you’ve got to love ArtCaffe’s Urban Burgers. Every Monday they have a two for one deal! If you take it down with their fantastic chocolate chip milkshake, you’re ALMOST eternally blessed. Haha! Not really eternally but you get the picture. My last burger joint would be at the Java House. Their Caribbean Beef Burger will make you desire to move into the mall and renting a home there. I kid you not! It is delectably scrumptious! I am avoiding to talk about the crispy, chilly chips on the sides, and a cup of Dawa, their concoction of ginger, lemon, and honey.
Now, this is not a food blog or a marketing strategy for either of these restaurants. The thing about burgers is that they are an unusual sandwich than really fill you. They come with this weight of ‘satisfaction’ for the stomach. The buns are usually fleshy and sweet with beef, chicken or whatever else in the middle. For us, the middle part of it is where the rubber meets the road in our taste buds. A burger is not complete if there isn’t this fantastic sandwich of bun-beef-bun. Life in the faith is a burger picture that we all need to focus in times of doubt and anxiety, like the ones we are living in now. We must look at our lives from this balanced burger posture, bun-beef-bun. Here is how we apply it in our faith when the storms beat hardest.
“I have spoken these things to you so that you might have peace in Me. In the world, you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”
We are living in times when everything is relative. There is no absolute truth anymore to many people. Up until the COVID19 strike, not many cared so much about God and His involvement in our lives. God has had to shake and take away from us the things that seemed relevant. Now we are left with nothing else but faith. It is all that works. Faith in Jesus has become the most reassuring thing many people have come across. And many are turning the Lord for their eternal hope in uncertain times. What does Jesus have to remind us when such moments prevail?
In this chapter (John 16:1-32), as He does to us today, Jesus assures the disciples that their sorrow will be turned to joy even as the Holy Spirit carefully guides us to that day. It is encouraging that the Saviour of the world tells us that, yes, sorrow will come; however, it will not last forever. Joy is coming as he has promised (John 15:11). He reiterates the reason for speaking such affirming words to the disciples when there was uncertainty about what would become of their lives when the Messiah dies, resurrects and ascends. Jesus gives them the big burger boost that we need to make it through such troubles times. fh vBRW
THE TOP BIG BURGER BUN
Jesus says that he has spoken these things to them so that they may have peace in him (John 16:33a). The definition of ‘peace’, from a spiritual perspective, is not the absence of trouble but the presence of God. Many men of God experienced unthinkable peace in very tumultuous times. When people around them thought that they should be crushed and distraught, they were calm and joyful, as if nothing were happening to them.
Job- The man Job went through the whole process of losing his children, wealth and health. Even his wife thought that he should curse God and die. His friends misunderstood and misrepresented God in the whole ordeal. Job really suffered yet he famously said “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:21).”
David- David was a godly man who made foolish mistakes. At some point in his life, he was a fugitive, running from the hand of King Saul (1 Samuel 23:15- 29). David faced opposition from family (2 Samuel 17:1-26). Despite the mistakes and opposition, he penned down Psalm 23 as if everything was ok. He had his challenges, but he also knew the peace of God. When he faced Goliath, the giant of Gad, he said to him in 1 Samuel 17:45, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” He didn’t care about his giant stature. He was at peace to face him because he had the presence of the Lord.
Jesus- Jesus is the perfect example we have in this matter; no wonder we can learn from him. In his earthly body, he slept through a storm (Mark 4:35-38) and willingly faced the torturous experience of going to Calvary and dying on the cross (Matthew 26:36- 27:56). Everything was against him, but deep within he had the confidence of His Father’s presence.
Paul– Paul is another example of a strangely, peaceful man. He was beaten and left for dead once (Acts 14:19-23), only for him to arise and go on with the Gospel preaching. Another time he was shipwrecked with other prisoners, yet he encouraged them through it all (Acts 27:1-44). Such peace!
Jesus tells us this is the kind of peace he leaves with us. Not as the world gives (using tangible perishables), but from heaven’s throne (John 14:27). A peace, Paul says in Philippians 4:6-7, that surpasses all human understanding. This kind of peace comes when we receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour of our lives. Are you born again today?
THE MIDDLE BIG BURGER MEAT
The Christian life shows itself in love, joy, peace, and many others that scripture tells us (Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus adds another characteristic feature of the believer’s life- tribulations and suffering. He simply says in John 16:33b, “In the world, you will have tribulation.” In John 15:19-21, he had already told the disciples that as they persecuted him, so will they persecute them. He was not saying ‘maybe’ it will happen. No. He was assuring them of suffering. Philippians 1:29 tells us that this part of the privileges we have as believers- to suffer for Christ. Now, some sufferings do not seem to connect with Christ at all. It seems so but not quite. God has ordained every moment of our lives as believers (Psalm 139:16), and we are to live for His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). Nothing plays out as karma or luck. Because of this, it does not matter so much what it is we are suffering rather whose we are and whom we are with through it all. James 1:2-4 remind us of our responses to these troubled times when they come, joy. Joy because it leads to us being complete in Christ, which means we can be closer to him, the object of our joy.
I suppose this to be the hardest part of being a believer of Christ for many. It is almost paradoxical that we have the God of all the universe yet still have to go through suffering. It is all part of the journey friends (Romans 8:36; 2 Corinthians 7:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:4; 2 Timothy 3:12; Hebrews 11:25; 1 Peter 5:9; Revelation 7:14). If this story ended here, this burger would be the most boring of all burgers seeing that it won’t have a bottom part to make it balanced and sumptuous. But its there!
BOTTOM BIG BURGER BUN
For this meal to be served proper, there has to be the bottom bun. Jesus says it in John 16:33c, “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” How about that? It is stupendous! Jesus starts by encouraging that he will give us peace that is beyond this world’s cognition. This peace, he says, is because of the truth that we will go through tribulations of many kinds. However, Jesus does not leave us at the red mark. He adds that we should take heart for he has overcome the world.
What in the world has Jesus overcome? Romans 8:31- 39 tells us that no accusation, condemnation, tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger or sword can separate from his love. Why? In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Christ (the one who has overcome all for us). He adds there that neither life nor death, nor angels nor demons/ rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from Christ’s love. Why? Because he has overcome all these for us. This bottom burger bun is essential for us today. Things may be thick but thank God for our overcomer, Jesus Christ.
In times of fear and perplexity, like we are in now, there seems to be no certainty about anything. We may be going through difficult times; joblessness, no school, parents rendered jobless, beloved ones dying and much more. What is the confidence that we will hold on deep within? It is this Big Burger truth that Jesus has given us; his peace in times of tribulations because he has overcome the world. Be encouraged wherever you and in whatever you may be going through. Jesus has overcome the world!