[Sermons] Let not Your Heart be Troubled

Eric Carswell EHCARSWELL@compuserve.com
Wed May 8 19:02:32 UTC 2002

Let not Your Heart Be Troubled
By the Rev. Eric H. Carswell
May 5, 2002

        "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also
in Me." John 14:1  
        "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world
gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be
afraid."   John 14:27

We do indeed have troubled hearts during many seasons of our lives. 
Concerns large and small can well up in our thoughts.  We can even be
troubled by the idea that our lack of peace and happiness is a sign that we
don't really believe in the Lord or trust in Him.  Sometimes reading these
words from the Lord, we can get the idea that a spiritually advanced person
will feel peaceful at all times.  But this is a mis-impression.  When we
can know, believe, even feel the Lord's presence and work in our lives, we
will have strong underlying peace and happiness, but we don't live
constantly in this state of mind.  Perhaps you can think of a recent time
when you've sensed something of this underlying peace and happiness coming
from a recognition that the Lord was working with you and your loved ones. 
You can probably also think of a recent time when the Lord has seemed
distant and relatively powerless in the face of the issues you see before
you in your life or those of people near and dear to you.

We can sometimes think of ourselves as being spiritually weak or having not
traveled very far on our spiritual pathways if we have times when our faith
is challenged or our heart is deeply troubled, but consider this example
from the Lord's life in this world:

     Every temptation entails some kind of despair, or else it is not
temptation; and for that reason comfort follows. A person who is being
tempted is subjected to anxious fears which produce a state of despair over
the end in view. The conflict brought about by temptation does not consist
in anything else. One who is quite certain of victory does not experience
any anxiety, nor thus any temptation. Since the Lord underwent the most
dreadful and the cruelest temptations of all it was inevitable that He too
should be driven into feelings of despair which He put to flight and
overcame by His own power, as becomes quite clear from His temptation in
Gethsemane, which is described . . . In Matthew, 
        He began to be sorrowful and in agony. Then He said to the
disciples, My soul is utterly dejected even to death. And He went forward a
little and praying fell on His face, saying, My Father, if it is possible,
let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will but as You will.
Again, for the second time, He went away and prayed, saying, My Father, if
this cup cannot pass from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done. And He
prayed for the third time, saying the same thing. Matthew 26:36-44. 
In Mark, 
        He began to be terrified and in great agony. He said to the
disciples, My soul is wrapped in dejection, even to death. He went forward
a little, fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible the hour
might pass from Him. He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible to You;
remove this cup from Me; yet not as I will but as You will. This happened a
second and a third time. Mark 14:33-41. 
These quotations show the nature of the Lord's temptations - that they were
the most frightful of all; that He suffered agony from the inmost parts of
His being, even to the sweating of blood; that He was at the time in a
state of despair over the end in view and over the outcome; and that He
received comfort repeatedly.  (Arcana Caelestia 1787)

When the Lord calls to us and says, "Let not your heart be troubled" He is
not speaking from a perspective that knows nothing of this state of mind
and why it can come to pass.  After His years of battling and conquering in
every temptation, He could still be more deeply troubled in heart than we
could ever imagine.

One of the things that causes the troubles in our lives is how important
the here and now tends to seem to us.  What if, whenever you were troubled
or concerned about an issue, a friend would always say to you, "How
important will this issue be a hundred years from now?"  Take the example
of adult who at times mourns the fact that he or she isn't married and it
doesn't appear likely that this person will ever be married.  A hundred
years from now such a person who has tried to live a good and useful life 
will, without fail, have been experiencing the happiness of a marriage
"made in heaven" for years and years.  We can know this is the case, but
does it automatically end the sadness of the present.  No, it doesn't.

It seems that the Lord referred to this different perspective when He told
His disciples, "You believe in God, believe also in Me."  (John 14:1) 
Belief in God can be thought of as our best attempts to think from a
perspective of eternity--such as, the thought of what life will be like a
hundred years from now--but we do live in the here and now.  Believing in
the Lord's Divine Human can mean believing that He isn't just present in
the long-term, but is also present in this very moment.  He is working to
bring us as much happiness and peace now as we can possibly receive.  For
those who can believe in His presence and work in the here and now, their
eyes can be open to daily blessing large and small.  These will not mean
that there won't be sadness also over things that aren't what they should
be, but it does mean that such people won't face each day as a long and
dreary greyness of troubles and disappointments.

The Lord spoke about the different sources of happiness that a person can
seek when He said, "My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I
give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  
(John 14:27)   The peace that "the world" gives never lasts and is always
at risk.  There can always be the desire for more and the fear of loss. 
These troubles are inspired by evil spirits that are present with our
thinking, as described in the following passage from the Arcana Caelestia: 

        I have also noticed another kind of influx which does not take
place through the spirits present with a person but through others who are
sent out from some community in hell to the sphere emanating from that
person's life. They talk among themselves about the kinds of things that
are unacceptable to the person, which results generally in a flowing into
him of what is in many different ways troublesome, unpleasant, dejecting,
and worrying. Such spirits have often been present with me, when I have
experienced in the province of my stomach those who poured in feelings of
anxiety - not that I knew where the feelings came from. Yet on every
occasion I found out who they were, and then I heard them talking to one
another about the kinds of things that were unacceptable to my affections.
Avaricious spirits in the same region have sometimes been visible, though
in a slightly higher position; they have poured in the kind of anxiety that
results from concern for the future. I have also been allowed to rebuke
those spirits and to tell them that they correlate with undigested food in
the stomach which produces bad breath and so is nauseating. I have also
seen them being driven away; and once they were driven away, anxiety
completely disappeared. I have had this experience a number of times so
that I could be quite certain that those spirits were the source of the
        This is the kind of influx that takes place among those who for no
good reason are anxious and depressed, and also among those who are
undergoing spiritual temptation. During temptation however there is not
only a general influx of such spirits but also a particular stirring up by
spirits from hell of the evils the person has put into practice. 'Those
spirits also pervert and put a wrong interpretation on the forms of good
that the angels use to fight with in temptation. A state such as this is
what the person who is being regenerated enters by being let down into what
is wholly his own. And this happens when he immerses himself too much in
worldly and bodily interests and needs to be raised toward spiritual ones.
(Arcana Caelestia 6202)

Likewise we are told in another passage of the Arcana Caelestia of spirits
who love to trouble us.

        [There are] in the spiritual world . . .  spirits who hold on
tenaciously to their point of view and also spirits who take a
conscientious stand on issues that are not vitally important . . .  [T]heir
nature is such that they make meticulous enquiries into matters into which
no such enquiries at all ought to be made. Consequently, because they
burden the consciences of simple people they are called 'the conscientious
ones'. Yet they have no knowledge of what true conscience is, because they
make all issues into matters of conscience. For if a thing is subjected to
minute questioning or to doubt and the mind is anxiously fixed on such,
ideas supporting this attitude and weighing the mind down are never absent.
When such spirits are present they also bring a feeling of anxiety that
registers in the part of the abdomen located immediately beneath the
diaphragm. They are also present with a person during temptations. I have
talked to them and have noticed that their thoughts do not extend to any
concern for matters that have greater purpose or that are vitally
important. They were incapable of paying any attention to reasons offered
to them because they persisted in holding on tenaciously to their own
opinion. (Arcana Caelestia 5386)

The Lord has given us many such clear and direct examples of spiritual
influence in the Writings of the New Church because He wants us to
recognize the reality and impact of their presence in our lives.  Consider
the implications of the following passage about the perspective that the
Lord would lead us to have on our own thoughts and motivations:

        If a person were to believe as things really are, which is that
everything good and true comes from the Lord and everything evil and false
from hell, he could not have been found guilty of any offence or had evil
ascribed to himself. But because he believes that it begins in himself he
takes evil as his own; for his belief causes this to happen. Thus evil
clings and cannot be separated from him. Indeed the person's nature is such
that he would be indignant if anyone told him that his thoughts and desires
came from others and did not begin in himself.  (Arcana Caelestia 6324)

The Lord calls us to be led by Him.  He calls us to turn to Him for help
and for guidance.  He knows that we will have to work at this.  The Lord
has promised us that coming to a real faith in Him will take battles
against the natural perspectives that catch our attention and lead us to
crave worldly indications that we and our loved ones are okay and will be
well in the continuing future.  He wants to bring us a peace that is deep
and powerful.  This peace is described in the following words:

        Peace holds within itself trust in the Lord, the trust that He
governs all things and provides all things, and that He leads toward an end
that is good. When a person believes these things about Him he is at peace,
since he fears nothing and no anxiety about things to come disturbs him.
How far a person attains this state depends on how far he attains love to
the Lord. 
        Everything bad, especially trust in self, takes away the state of
peace. People think that someone bad is at peace when he is calm and
cheerful because everything is going right for him. But this is not peace,
it is the calm and delight belonging to evil desires that merely simulates
the state of peace. This delight, being the opposite of the delight
belonging to peace, turns to undelight in the next life, for that is what
lies hidden within it. In the next life outward things are rolled away one
layer after another through to inmost things at the center. Peace is at the
center of all delight, even of the undelight of a person governed by good.
So far therefore as he casts off what is external the state of peace is
revealed and he is filled with bliss, blessedness, and happiness, the
source of which is the Lord Himself. (Arcana Caelestia 8455)

The Lord knows that there will be times in this world when our minds are
troubled.  He does not dismiss these times as mere mortal weakness.  He
knows that they are part of our necessary pathway to heaven.  He will be
with us at each step of this pathway and yet He knows that we will not
sense this presence, just as He felt distant from the Infinite God when He
underwent His temptations in the world.  But even within these times He is
very near and powerfully working within our lives.  May we seek a faith in
His loving care.  May we pray for His healing during times when our hearts
are troubled. AMEN.

       Lessons: Psalm 46
                John 14:1-3, 27
                Apocalypse Explained 365:6-7

All books mentioned, other than from the Bible, are written by Emanuel
Swedenborg and are often referred to in the New Church merely as "the
Writings."  We believe that they are equally the Word of God as the
revelation of the Old and New Testaments.  

        Jesus said, Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you, not
as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled,
neither let it be afraid (John 14:27). 
This verse reflects the Lord's close relationship of love with those who
think true ideas from the good motivations in their mind; therefore "peace"
means tranquility of mind from that relationship; and as such are protected
by that relationship from the evils and falsities that are from hell, for
the Lord protects those who have such a relationship with Him, therefore He
says, "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." This
Divine peace is in a person, and because heaven is with it, "peace" here
also means heaven and in the highest sense, the Lord. But the peace of the
world is from successes in the world, therefore from a person's
relationship with the world, and because this is only external and the
Lord, and consequently heaven are not in it, it perishes with the life of a
person in the world and is turned into what is not peace; therefore the
Lord says, "My peace I give unto you; not as the world gives do I give to
        Jesus said, These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may
have peace. In the world you have affliction; but have confidence I have
overcome the world (John 16:33). 
Here, too, "peace" means internal delight from a close relationship with
the Lord, from which come heaven and eternal joy. "Peace" is here opposed
to "affliction," because "affliction" means being infested by evil loves
and false ideas, which those have who are in Divine peace so long as they
live in the world; for the flesh, which they encompasses them, craves after
the things of the world, from which comes affliction. 
        Apocalypse Explained 365:6-7

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