Here’s a Greek word I am chewing on: TARASSO. It means to put in motion, to agitate back and forth – shake to and fro.
Agitate? Now that’s a verb with an instant mental connection! The image of the center of a washing machine immediately pops into my mind! That piece of machinery is responsible for a whole lot of tarasso. Dirty clothes, be warned! Prepare for a great deal of thrashing and spinning after being plunged into a tub of scorching, soapy water! There is nothing peaceful about being at the mercy of that steamy, swirling vortex!
What is the result of agitation? Well…in the case of dirty clothes, it seems to be an effective strategy for eliminating dirt. But if you’re a cat…. Not no helpful! Yes, we had a cat, a cat that refused to give up her habit of napping in our laundry machinery! Important fact: a cat can survive 20 minutes in a dryer (with a load of wet jeans) … unfortunately, however, said cat's lifespan may be notably shortened! This is what our poor cat looked like after her harrowing “tarasso” experience.
I guess old-fashioned laundry terminology would have called this going through the wringer.” Poor kitty! Agitation can be brutal!
(in case you're wondering about the cat, after a brief nap, she rebounded; but a few months later she laid down and breathed her last! Proof that TARASSO is hazardous to one's health!)
So why am I musing about tarasso? Because I recently embarked on the project of learning John 14 -17 by heart. Tarasso pops up in the first sentence. This is a very familiar section of Scripture, words that Jesus spoke to his disciples in the hours preceding his arrest and death. Now just imagine if you were telling your loved ones that you would be dying in a few days. “Tarasso” would certainly describe the emotional climate. It would permeate the atmosphere. Emotions would churn. Confusion, shock and disbelief would be quickly surpassed by fear and worry about what life would be like without you. The disciples have just been doused into a tarasso moment. So in the very first sentence Jesus speaks to the turmoil in their hearts and says, “Let not your heart be ‘tarasso - ed’ or troubled.”
Jesus and his friends had just finished the Passover meal. It was the night before he would go to the cross and he was preparing them for the next day, for some seriously agitating circumstances. They were about to go through a season of disorientation, upheaval, a wringer of sorts. Circumstances that would throw them off balance. Lots of distress, fear, bewilderment, in short: trouble with a capital T.
Sometimes my inner world looks like the inside of a washing machine. A good bit of agitating is going on. Oh I’ll just admit it! OFTEN my inner world looks like that. Who am I kidding? Name a subject and I can agitate it until it’s worn and frayed.
Trouble is trouble no matter where it falls on the drama scale. It diverts our attention, drains our energy, and increases distance from the very One who is called the Prince of Peace.
Jesus is telling us here that we can choose how we will handle trouble. Trouble doesn’t have to handle us. He says “Let not your heart be troubled.” His solution: “Trust in God. Trust also in Me.” Hmm…so that doesn’t sound like something based on circumstances, but on Someone who is bigger than my circumstances. He offers peace in the midst of trouble. That sounds about as hard as walking on water - very unnatural or I should say very SUPERnatural.
If I knew I was departing this planet in 24 hours, I would be yearning to communicate my heart to my family and friends. I would be focusing my thoughts and distilling my words to communicate what I would most want them to remember. I would be saturating my sentences with every bit of wisdom and love I could muster.
Only 117 verses contains Jesus’s parting thoughts and words! I am looking forward to planting these words deep into the soil of my heart and mind, letting them weave their way into my inner world, strengthening the impact of his legacy in my life. Stay tuned! Maybe you’ll see me walking on water yet!
John 16: 33: I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”