When we hear the word ‘Peace’ our thoughts may turn to the absence of war or hostilities or civil disturbances. We may think of harmonious relationships between individuals or groups. Or maybe peace evokes a sense of tranquility, calm or contentment in us.
The word peace, in the Bible, is of great significance and means far more than the absence of hostilities, war, or riots/civil disturbances. In Hebrew the word is Shalom. It not only covers the absence of adverse circumstances, but also refers to a state of affairs, one of general wellbeing, wholeness, security, tranquility and oneness with God. Shalom is a blessing, an expression of divine grace.
In The Way of Perseverance we saw two of the followers of Jesus walking to Emmaus. As they walked along the road they were joined by a stranger who enquired what they were talking about. They told him about the dramatic events and changes, which had just taken place in Jerusalem, concerning Jesus of Nazareth.
When they arrived at their destination they urged the stranger to stay and eat with them……..as the stranger took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to them, suddenly their eyes were opened and they recognised Jesus. Then he vanished from their sight.
They swiftly returned to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples what had happened. When they reached the disciples, they too were talking about Jesus appearing. As they were discussing all this, Jesus suddenly appeared before them all.
‘Standing there among them he said, “Be at peace. I am the living God. Don’t be afraid. Why would you be so frightened? Don’t let doubt or fear enter your hearts, for I AM! Come and gaze upon my pierced hands and feet. See for yourselves, it is I, standing here alive.”’ Luke 24: 37-40 The Passion Translation.
In John’s Gospel at the Last Supper, before he prayed for his disciples and left with them for Gethsemane , Jesus told them:
“And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!” John 17:33 The Passion Translation.
There are many verses and passages in the Bible which mention the peace of God and even more that encourage us not to fear! Yet, while we may know these verses, there are times when the landscape of our world changes swiftly and/or unexpectedly. It is part of the rollercoaster of life, the ups and downs and twists and turns, the delays and detours.
Currently we are all on a journey through a global pandemic. We are adjusting to different patterns of life and work and restrictions. Our usual structures and securities have been disrupted.
In the midst of all this, how can we find the way of peace and courageously journey through the sorrows and troubles and uncertainties that surround us?
While we cannot dwell in what has been, often recalling times when the Lord has given us peace in past difficulties, can encourage us to have the faith and the courage that he will do so now.
Can you recall times in your journey of faith when the Lord has given you strength and blessed you with peace in troubled times? Ponder and reflect on them and gain encouragement from them.
If such occasions elude you at this moment (and even if they don’t!), ponder on the verses below and pray that you may experience the peace of God today.
“The Lord gives strength to his people and blesses them with peace.
Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
Numbers 6: 26 (NIV)
“the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
This last verse forms part of Aaron’s blessing from Numbers 6: 23-27 (NIV),
Cody Carnes, Kari Jobe and Elevation have recently released a song based on it, called The Blessing.
Churches from all over the UK released a version of it on 3/5/20.
Within 30 hours over a million people had listened to it! You can listen to it here