“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” John 14:27
These words of Jesus, first directed to an anxious, understandably trepid group of men – an odd assortment of simple fishermen and fellow Galileans – on the eve of his death, bring renewed comfort each time they are read. They still hold the same promise today as they did so many years ago.
Personally, every time I hear these words, especially during the Holy Week of Easter, I am transported back four years to some difficult days spent in the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center with my wife and seven-year-old son. After a whirlwind of very sudden and unexpected tests and a grim prognosis of my son’s probable bone cancer, we found ourselves in the pediatric ward, surrounded by scores of similarly harried parents with their children, the common bond seemingly fear and a gloomy sense of foreboding.
My wife and I, however, had arrived strengthened by the prayers of our church and armed with these very words from the Gospel of John, which our pastor advised we read together. I still hear these words as if it were only yesterday, read aloud by a small boy in a quavering and faltering voice, all of us standing before such unknowns, each needing desperately the comfort of Jesus. I still can feel so tangibly how the confines of our hearts and the small hospital room crumbled before the simple yet awesome power of a small child’s faith and trust, as if Jesus himself was there with us, which I actually firmly believe was the case.
Later, as the orderlies and doctors wheeled our son down the long corridor leading into the surgical ward and the doors swung shut behind them, we realized all we had to hang on to was this comfort and peace of Jesus, who, despite his full knowledge of the suffering that lay ahead, had the love to prepare and encourage his disciples.
To tell our story in detail would take too long, but the end result was an unexplainable miracle of healing, completely contrary to the diagnosis and understanding of some of the world’s best doctors. The whole experience, prefaced by reading Jesus’ words together, was an amazing testimony to the strength and power of a church’s united prayer and of a small child’s simple faith in the one Great Physician, whose promises were given not just for his own disciples so many years ago, but “for all those who hear my words and believe in me.”
Each spring, as the world wakes up around us, the memory of those amazing days and of these wonderful words brings me again a fresh hope and belief that all earthly things truly are under the care and protection of a supreme God, a loving Father who sent his only Son to conquer death and rise victorious on that first Easter morning.