16:31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
This has been for me one of the most powerful passages in all of Scripture. First it was verse 33 that was powerful. As an immature Christian Bible verses were like flowers. You walk through fields of wild flowers and selectively pick the ones you like. As you grow you realize the Bible isn't a field of flowers and individual verses are not to be randomly picked out from their setting. What is rewarding is when you bring the "flower" and put it back where you found it and then examine carefully where it came from. In theological language we call this "the context".
John 16:33 really comes alive when you put it back where it came from. Already Jesus had told them back in chapter 13 which is still the same evening that they were going to abandon Him. He specifically told Peter that he would flat our deny Him even though Peter insisted he was ready to die for Jesus. He followed up this shocking prophecy with the consolation "Don't let this trouble your hearts. Believe in God and believe in Me..."
Now here they are later in the evening and the disciples have again affirmed their belief in Him. Jesus challenges their profession with a question "Do you really believe? You will all scatter... and leave Me alone..."
It is in this context, the context of them failing Him in spite of their good intentions that Jesus tells them they will have trouble but to be of good cheer because He has overcome.
Trouble. When I picked the "flower" and took it away from the context I read trouble as sickness, financial problems, people problems, death of loved ones etc... When I put the "flower" back I quickly saw that these were not the troubles Jesus was referring to. He was not talking about the external problems we face in life. He was talking about something much more primal. The truth is the external troubles are not really the issue. The issue comes with how those pressures and stresses affect us.
Do you remember the gut wrenching cry of Martha and Mary when Lazarus died? "Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died!" Troubles lead to doubt. Troubles cause us to question everything, including God. Suddenly as our circumstances become dark in an instant we stop saying "God is good all the time" and start crying out "God where are You?!?!"
What Jesus is saying in John 16:33 is "In this world you will have trouble believing in Me, but be of good cheer, don't freak out or get discouraged. I have overcome the unbelief."
We have talked about it before. Unbelief is at the root of all our troubles. Adam and Eve didn't believe God’s version and trouble came. Abraham didn't believe Sarah would/could have a son and trouble followed. The Israelites didn't believe God could give them the promised land and trouble followed. Satan didn't believe Jesus would actually become one of us and die in our place but He did. No trouble will follow... we can be cheerful because where we have repeatedly failed through unbelief Jesus never flinched. Not once did He waver.
That's where our peace is found. It's not to be found in our wind tossed up and down faith. There is no foundation there. If you want real peace it's time to shift your attention from the mirror to the Man.