"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." - Jesus (John 16:33)
Our world is vast and complex; even America by itself can be overwhelming at times. I remember my first trip on a Greyhound bus, out from Philadelphia when I was 19. Up to Buffalo; across the border to London, Ontario; on to Toronto, then Detroit; later Chicago, lots of nothing before running into Minneapolis; lots more nothing (including Fargo, N. Dakota) and eventually into Montana, Billings then Bozeman. I had the Simon and Garfunkel song "Gone to look for America" stuck in my head for weeks.
Actual travel, running road-time, was 82 hours. I was , quite simply, blown away by the scope of the United States! There were stretches of North Dakota where the bus ran full tilt without deviating for several hours with barely a change of scenery. America was so big that first year that I could scarcely take it in.
Europe is quite the opposite, but just as impressive in its own way. Our son, Andrew, is driving from Germany and through Switzerland on his way to Italy today. A trip covering the same number of miles as my Greyhound odyssey would take someone through the entire European continent and deep into North Africa, or wind through the capitals of every major nation; condensed history and culture and countless varieties of topography at a mind-boggling rate.
Kings, dictators, heads of state - leaders of all variety. Mighty armies; nuclear arsenals; aircraft carriers; fanatical Islamic fighters; vast treasure troves; powerful economies; multi-billionaire software executives; railroad barons; oil Sheiks; financial empires; vast political systems; capitalism; communism; free markets....
This world, with its collective resources and fragmented will, is becoming a vast network of development, invention, poverty, abuse, learning, exploitation, opportunity, oppression, freedom, weakness and strength. The application of technology is increasing wealth and power... and depleting resources... and squandering fortunes... and creating jobs... and leaving economies strong - or reeling - at a hard-to-quantify rate.
The small band of Jesus-followers, Christ's disciples seated around the dinner table, could see clearly the evidence of some of the most abusive and corrupt power the planet had ever known. The Roman Empire has its iron fist clamped tightly around the tiny nation of Israel... and today the world offers just as much danger and repression in its own version of "... you will have trouble."
Yet,Jesus states, quite categorically, "Take heart, for I have overcome the world."
PRAYER. "We shall overcome; we shall overcome; we shall overcome some day. Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome some day...." Thank you, God. Amen