"For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God." (John 16:2 NLT)
"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NLT)
I can't imagine what it would have been like to be in the disciple's sandals! Would I have the strength to make it through that kind of harsh treatment and rejection... or would I have compromised so that folks would still like me? Could I really find peace in God when everything around me was in turmoil? How strong is my faith? Could I really hold on -- or would I crumble under the pressure? Under such harsh conditions, could I really stay strong and keep from abandoning my faith?
John 16 opens by saying "I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith." What are "these things"? It seems like He's referring to the encouraging things in the previous chapter, like:
"Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5 NLT)
"I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love." (John 15:9 NLT)
"You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name." (John 15:17 NLT)
If I really, really believed these things, would I be so concerned about what others thought of me? Could I really be afraid to stand up for what I believed in, even if someone thought less of me?
So the key to staying strong is staying in close relationship with Him... even when we can't see Him for a while (see John 16:16).