“Do you now believe?” Jesus asked his disciples. “Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone” (John 16:31-32).
They had reclined in the upper room to observe the Passover with Jesus as “friends” (John 15:15). Between the upper room and the Garden of Gethsemane, they became more than a little confused: “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’?” (John 16:17). Before the night was over, they would flee that garden as fugitives, forsaking their Shepherd, scattering into the shadows. Jesus would be left alone.
“Yet,” he continued in John 16:32, “I am not alone, for the Father is with me.”
Alone, yet not alone. What a powerful idea…
Jesus was betrayed, yet not betrayed, for the Father was him.
Jesus was abandoned, yet not abandoned, for the Father was with him.
Jesus was denied, yet not denied, for the Father was with him.
Jesus was killed, and yet he lives, for the Father was with him.
The apostle Paul speaks in similar terms in his second letter to the Corinthians:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies… So we do not lose heart… (2 Cor 4:7-10, 16)
…and you shouldn’t either, for the Father is with you. You walk in the light as he is in the light and the sands of popular culture may shift beneath you, but you can be steadfast, for the Father is with you. Though life on earth be shaken, your expectations give way, and the mountains of all you’ve ever known be moved into the heart of the sea, you can be immovable, for the Father is with you. You may not be able to do everything you’d like to do in the present or capable of doing what you once did in the past, but you can continue to abound in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain, for the Father is with you.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor 4:16-18)
Whatever today holds, whatever tomorrow brings, look past the things that are seen to the things that are unseen. We do not lose heart, for the Father is with us. In this moment, despite uncertainty, through hardship and affliction, into glory, for eternity.
“For the Father is with me.”