This reflection was given during the daily Eucharist in the chapel of an Anglican convent. The Scripture it references is John 14:1-6.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” We’re not very good at that, are we? Things change, we are uncertain of what will happen, we feel out of control, and – indeed – we let our hearts be troubled.
Of course, when Jesus was speaking here, he was trying to prepare the disciples for all that was about to follow; his arrest, trial, and execution, and afterwards his leaving in a more permanent way. They had been so reliant on him, and they were going to have to learn very quickly, and under pressure, how to get on without him.
But most of us have times when God seems far away, and perhaps we wonder if He’s there at all. Or if he is, why He doesn’t do something to ease the various things which are troubling our hearts. What’s the use of a God who doesn’t show up when you really need Him?
The flip side of divine absence, though, is one of space. Jesus talks about going to prepare a place “for you,” and perhaps what he doesn’t say is that the disciples also need to grow before they’re ready for that place. His absence, and the troubles they experience in the meantime, provide the stimulus to that growth and even creativity, both on our part, and on God’s.
If we look at Jesus’ words here as being about the experience of troubles and distance from God which pushes us into new spaces, that might also cast new light on Jesus’ statement that he is the way, the truth, and the life; perhaps, when God feels far away, we can hear those words as reassurance that despite not feeling the close joy and the reality of God with right now, we can know that we are on the path which will take us to those things, in the place which is being prepared for us, and in the presence of Jesus.