Of all the Christian T-shirts , the Bible Emergency Numbers is easily the most popular. You can see why. It lists 25 important Bible verses for 25 different situation you might face. Each verse can help guide you through a tough time, remind you to be faithful, or give you the lift you need to get through the day. In this post, we’ll dive into the first of those Bible emergency numbers to help you understand how that particular passage can help.
The first emergency Bible passage is John 14, for when you are in sorrow. Christians all know that life won’t be amazing all the time. We live in a broken world. Even when life is going well, it’s filled with annoyances great and small. But sometimes the broken world really gives you a smack in the face.
Consider what happened to the members of Trinity Lutheran Church in Milwaukee. The church was one of the oldest in the city, built in 1878, back when people built humongous vaulting church buildings like those back in the Europe. A beautiful example of Victorian neo-gothic architecture, it was a gem. When people say, “The don’t build ‘em like that anymore,” it’s literally true about this church.
On May 15, 2018 the church burned to the ground, a massive four-alarm fire. The congregation had just put $10 million into restoring and renovating the church. Then they saw it all go up in flames. When in sorrow…
Or what about the families of the 8 people killed in Chicago this Memorial Day weekend. One was a 15 year old boy. Another a young mom who was celebrating her two-year-old’s birthday. She was hit by stray bullets. One day your kid, your sister, your brother, is there. The next, gone. When in sorrow…
The Christian T-shirt points us to John 14 to help us through our troubles. In John 14, Jesus is in the upper room with his disciples on the night he was betrayed. He had just washed his disciples’ feet, humbling himself before them. Now, he teaches them for three chapters about God’s grace and his love for them.
John 14 gives us some of Jesus’ most famous sayings. He starts with the phrase, “In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Jesus looks ahead to the day he will ascend into heaven and leave the disciples. He tells them that his ascension doesn’t mean that he’s abandoning them. Jesus goes to prepare a place for his people in his Father’s kingdom. He reminds us that our future is set. No matter what happens to us, we have a place in the Father’s kingdom on the day of the resurrection.
How do we know our future is safe? Jesus tells us the way to come to the Father and his kingdom. He says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is the way. Because he died for us, rose for us, and ascended into heaven, he has cleared the path to eternal life. Where he is, we also will be.
Jesus gives us even more comfort later on in the chapter. He says, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” and again he says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
Jesus’ promise of a perfect future in the resurrection is not the only comfort we have in him. Jesus sends us the Holy Spirit, the helper. The Spirit’s job is to remind us of everything that Jesus said to his church.
The Holy Spirit comes to us, and he points us to Jesus. He reminds us, even when we are suffering terrible sorrow, that we have a savior who loves us. We have a savior who died for us. We have a savior who gives us peace.
That Holy Spirit, the helper, comforts us when we are in sorrow. Some of the older translations use a different word, the comforter, instead of “helper.” The helper, the Holy Spirit, comfort us because of Jesus. He strengthens our faith. He sustains us in our weakness. He enables us to grasp God’s promises and to trust in them. He guides us on the path of faith through the one who is the way, the truth, and the life.
That’s the comfort in which the folks at Trinity Lutheran Church in Milwaukee trust. On their facebook page, they posted a photo that says it all. You can see the destruction all around. The stained glass windows are shattered. Debris from the roof litters the ground where pews once sat. In the center, however, is the altar painting, called a triptych— three images from the life of Christ. In the center, you can see Jesus ascending into heaven and blessing his church.
What a great message of promise in the midst of sorrow. Jesus triumphs over the sorrows we face. Even though the world is broken, Jesus has overcome it. He has promised that we are his people no matter what. Nothing can change it.
When in sorrow, turn to Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He prepares a place for us in his father’s kingdom. He sends us the Holy Spirit, the helper, the comforter. He is the only sure answer when we are in sorrow.
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