When You’re Down
By Melvin Newland
Have you ever had one of those days when everything goes wrong? It doesn’t make any difference how hard you try, it just seems that everything backfires on you? The harder you try, the worse it gets. I’m convinced that all of us have had days like that.
I heard a story that illustrates this point very well. It is about a lady at the airport who bought a Kit Kat candy bar to eat while she was waiting for her plane.
In the crowded waiting area she spied an empty seat at the end of a row. Rushing to get it, she quickly propped her hang up bag against the end of the row, sat down, & placed her purse & several small items on the table between her & a rather large man seated there, & then turned back to straighten her hang up bag.
With everything finally in order, she was ready to eat her Kit Kat candy bar. But to her surprise, as she started to reach for it, she saw the man in the next seat unwrapping her Kit Kat candy bar, & she watched in utter amazement as he broke off a section & ate it.
She thought, “Well, my goodness, I’ve never seen such gall.” She glared at him, & he looked at her, but no words were exchanged.
She was so furious at what he had done that she decided that if he was going to be that brazen about it, she could be brazen, too. So she reached over to him, broke off a piece & ate it herself. Then he broke off another piece & ate it.
It became almost a duel between the two of them to see who would get the most. Quickly the candy bar was consumed, & she sat there just boiling that someone would be so rude & so presumptuous as to eat half of her candy bar.
Well, after a few minutes of silence, the man got up & left & then came back with another Kit Kat candy bar. He unwrapped it, broke off a piece & started eating. She thought, “Well, since he ate half of mine, I’m going to eat half of his.” So she reached over & broke off another piece & ate it.
Once again the same scenario was repeated until the whole candy bar was gone. She sat there thinking, “This is the most ridiculous thing that has happened to me in my whole life.” She continued to glare at him, & he looked at her, with neither one saying a word.
Just then, over the intercom came the announcement that her plane was ready for boarding. So she opened her purse to get her boarding pass &, to her utter embarrassment, there was her Kit Kat candy bar. She had eaten half of 2 of his candy bars, & her candy bar was still in her purse!
There are times, I suppose, when things really start to go wrong. Your whole world seems to be crumbling around you & you wonder what is going on.
That is probably about the way the apostles are feeling as we come to the 14th chapter of John. Their week had begun gloriously with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, & people waving palm branches & shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!” (John 12:13)
Even the Pharisees & the chief priests who had been plotting against Jesus had cried out in despair, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after Him!” (John 12:19)
But Jesus had not come to establish an earthly kingdom, & He refused the crown. Disappointed & thwarted in their dreams of a Jewish kingdom with Jesus as their miracle working king, the fickle crowd began to change. And soon the priests were once again seeking someone to betray Jesus into their hands.
So as the 14th chapter of John opens, we see Jesus & His apostles in the upper room where they have eaten the Passover meal together. Jesus knew exactly what the next few hours would bring.
He knew Judas would betray Him. He knew about the illegal trials of the night, & how troubled the apostles would be. He knew of the cross & the borrowed tomb. And He tried to prepare the apostles for all that. So He begins to comfort them.
Is there anyone who needs comfort here this morning? I know that there are. We lose loved ones. People lose jobs. Some have physical problems. Others are lonely & depressed. We experience all kinds of troubles.
But Jesus says that part of the solution to a troubled heart is trust, & He tells His apostles to trust in 3 things. “First of all, trust in My presence. Secondly, trust in My promises. Thirdly, simply trust in Me.”
TRUST IN MY PRESENCE
First of all, Jesus tells them, “You can trust in My presence.” In Vs. 1 Jesus begins by saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me.”
What is Jesus saying there? Is He saying, “You trust in God, now it’s time to trust also in me?” Or is He saying, “I know you trust in God, & you also trust in me. Now remember, when you can no longer see me, don’t stop trusting in me.”
You see, we have always found it easier to trust in things that we can see & touch. We have a little bit of Thomas in us, don’t we? Remember, Thomas said, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands & put my finger where the nails were, & put my hand into His side, I will not believe it” (John 20:25).
So Jesus shows him & he believes. “Then Jesus told him, “Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen & yet have believed” (John 20:29).
The Bible teaches us that the things we can see are only temporary. The automobile in which you rode to church today is temporary. This building, the pews on which you are sitting, all are temporary. All are subject to decay.
The story is told about a busy mother who put her two boys to bed. After tucking them in & listening to their prayers, she bid them “good night” & heaved a sigh of relief saying, “Now I can have some time to myself.”
So she went into the bathroom, took a nice warm shower, & washed her hair. Stepping out of the shower, she put on her old robe, wrapped her head in a towel, applied a thick layer of white moisturizer to her face, & then headed for the den.
But just then she heard sounds of a pillow fight going on in the boy’s bedroom. Irritated, she threw open their door, & said, “You kids get right back in bed & don’t make another sound.” Then she turned off the light & slammed the door. The two boys turned to each other & said, “Who was that?”
We look in the mirror & see our aging bodies, & realize that they are temporary, too. All the things you can see & touch are only here for a little while & then are gone. But the things you can’t see last forever.
This is a hard lesson for us to learn, isn’t it? Yet it is an important lesson, because when we face troubles & difficulties in life, we need to remember as Christians that Jesus has promised, “I will be with you always. I will never leave you nor forsake you. Trust in My presence.”
TRUST IN MY PROMISES
Then Jesus tells them, “You can trust in My promises.” In vs’s 2 & 3 Jesus says, “In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go & prepare a place for you, I will come back & take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
God gave many promises both in the Old & New Testaments. He promised the children of Israel a land where there would be milk & honey. It took a while for the promise to be fulfilled, but finally it was fulfilled.
He promised a Messiah, & that took a long time. But it, too, was fulfilled. Jesus the Savior was born.
Now God promises that He is coming back for us. Someday we’ll be with Him forever & ever. Sometimes we grow impatient, but the scripture says, “You can trust the promises of God. This promise will be fulfilled, too.”
The Bible uses a lot of different words to describe heaven. In one place it is called “a country” indicating the vastness of heaven. In another it is called “a city” indicating a large number of inhabitants.
It is called “a kingdom” indicating that there is a governmental structure to it all. It is called “paradise” indicating its beauty & desirability. But here it is called, “My Father’s house,” & that is another way of saying, “It is home.”
Home is a place where you can be yourself. Home is where you can take off your necktie & kick off your shoes. Home is where you can say what you are thinking. Home is where you’re always accepted & loved. You’re not just a guest. You are a resident. You live there. That is home.
Jesus is saying, “I’m going to take you to My Father’s house, & it will be your home, too. You’ll be a part of the family. You’ll be home where you belong.”
He says, “In My Father’s house are many rooms.” The KJ version says, “many mansions.” We like that word. But “mansion” is not the best translation of the Greek word Jesus used. Probably the best is “dwelling place” or “rooms.”
You see, the word that Jesus used comes from the eastern custom that when a son grows up & gets married, he brings his bride back home again. And the father adds another room onto His house for them.
Then when another son grows up & gets married, they add another room. The house just keeps getting bigger & bigger, as the family stays together.
“In My Father’s house,” Jesus said, “are many rooms… I am going there to prepare a place for you… I will come back and take you to be with me….” We’re almost there, people. Don’t become discouraged or fainthearted.
Marian Anderson, the great singer, was once asked, “What is the most memorable moment of your life?”
When she answered, she didn’t mention the time she sang before the president. She didn’t mention the time that she was invited to sing before the king & queen of England. She didn’t mention when she sang before 76,000 people on Easter morning in Washington, D.C.
She said, “The most memorable moment of my life was when I came home to my mother & said, `Mama, you don’t have to take in laundry anymore.’ That’s the most memorable moment of my life.”
Stop & think about heaven. Much of me is already there. My name is written there. My citizenship is there. My God is there. My Savior is there. My inheritance is there. My parents are there. So much of me is already there.
Soon His promise will be fulfilled, & we’ll be in our Father’s house. We’ll get new bodies, & we won’t have to worry about getting old & sick & all the other things that plague us here. “Trust My promises,” He says.
TRUST IN ME!
Thirdly, Jesus is saying, “Trust in Me.” In vs’s 4-6 Jesus says, “`You know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to Him, `Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, `I am the way & the truth & the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'”
What a wonderful promise! He is saying, “I’m not just going to show you the way, or tell you the way, or write out the instructions on how to get there. I’m going to come & take you by the hand to My Father’s house. Then you’ll be home.”
Do you have burdens this morning that you think you cannot bear? Are you troubled? Are you worried or anxious? Do you feel empty inside? Do you feel lonely? Do you feel lost? Confused?
A few years ago Dave Galloway told of a soldier who returned from Viet Nam. His parents were socialites, very well to do. It was near Christmas, and they were getting ready to go out to the first of the round of parties of the Christmas season.
Just then the phone rang, & it was their son on the phone. “Mom,” he said, “I’m back in the States.” She said, “That’s wonderful! Where are you? Will you be home for Christmas? Can you get here in time for the parties? Everybody will just love to see you.”
He answered, “Yes, I can be home for Christmas, but I want to ask you something first.” “What is it?” she asked. “Well, I have a friend with me from Viet Nam. Can he come?”
“Oh, of course,” she answered. “Bring him along. He’ll enjoy the parties, too.” “Wait a moment, mom,” he said, “I need to explain something about him. He was terribly wounded, & lost both legs & one arm. His face is disfigured, too.”
There was silence on the phone for awhile. Then the mother said, “That’s all right. Bring him home for a few days.” “No, mom, you don’t understand. He has nowhere to live. He has no one else. I want to bring him home & to let our home be his home.”
The mother was quiet again. Then she said, “Son, that just wouldn’t do. What you’re asking would be very unfair to us. Why, it would disrupt all our lives. I’m sure there are government agencies that would be more than glad to take charge of him. Look, just you hurry home for Christmas now, & then maybe you can visit him once in a while.”
“Darling, I’m sorry, but we’ve got to rush or we’ll be late for the party. Call us again as soon as you know when you’ll be home. Goodbye.”
When the parents returned home from the party that night, there was an urgent message from the California police asking them to call.
They telephoned, & the officer said, “I’m very sorry to have to call you, but we have just found a young soldier dead in a motel room. His face is disfigured, & he has lost both legs & one arm. From the documents on him it would appear that he is your son.”
Whatever your burdens are this morning, the solution to a troubled heart is still the same, to trust, to trust in His presence. “I’ll never leave you,” He said. “I’ll always be beside you. Don’t forget My presence.”
Secondly, “Trust My promises. When everything seems dark & gloomy, when everything seems to be falling apart, remember My promises.”
“Then trust in Me. You won’t get lost. You won’t go astray. I’m the way, & I’ll take you by the hand & lead you to My Father’s house.”
Jesus invites us this morning, & He waits for you to respond to His invitation.