Peace Beyond Understanding
Last week, I was sitting outside on a gorgeous summer evening in New York City. If you’ve ever been here, you know how quickly everyone moves, sometimes it’s hard to catch a breath. When you get a chance to stop and just “be”, it’s a treasured moment. As the dusk fell and the sunset, I settled into a spot I like to claim as my own, although, I’m aware hundreds of people probably sit there every day.
So there I was, writing and reflecting on the day, scribbling a mix of prayer requests, to-do lists, and random thoughts, all while whispering quick prayers. Suddenly I felt someone standing over me. I looked up to find a man and a woman staring at me, and the man blurts out “You look so peaceful” and then he turns away.
This was ironic to me. Little did he know I’ve spent the past few weeks in distress. The state of our country has made me feel a full range of emotions such as anger, bitterness, sadness, hopelessness, and confusion. On top of all the other curve balls I’ve been trying to field, there are particular factors that have made my spirit feel crushed.
The word peace derives from the Hebrew root slm, which means “to be complete” or “to be sound.” An alternate explanation is “to be complete or whole” or “to live well.” I don’t know about you, but I long for unending peace. In the midst of the storms (and sometimes hurricanes) that hit my life, I am desperate to feel complete and whole, while living “well”.
Peace, Be Still
I think about the disciples on the boat in the storm described in Matthew 8. They witnessed Jesus perform extraordinary miracles with their own eyes. These imperfect people truly believed in Jesus’ work and they were excited to spread the truth.
Yet, when the waves began to flood the boat, when the sky was gray, and when the situation seemed hopeless, their reaction was fear. Jesus, who was still asleep through the chaos awoke to men in severe distress. “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”, they cried (Mat 8:25).
Have you ever felt like, “Lord, I’m panicking, these are the last moments, help us, I’m scared, show us the way out of this!”
Like the disciples, I know that God can perform miracles. I’ve seen Him come through time and time again. When the storm clouds gather around my “boat”, I convince myself that I’ve grown, and this time I will prove I have great faith to endure the storm.
But so often, fear threatens that faith. Thankfully, we serve a compassionate God who reacts with mercy and love. When we simply ask for Him to take over, He comes and repairs the situation. I stand in awe just like the disciples who watched Jesus “completely calm” the weather.
In these critical times, Christians need to believe that God is capable of miracles. Right now, our circumstances may seem hopeless, but I believe that just as Jesus calmed the waves and told the wind to be silent, He can also bring supernatural peace to the world.
Non-believers are watching us, even when we don’t think they are. They are taking note of our behavior. Look at the random encounter I experienced with that couple. I’m not sure he knew that I have the peace of God, but I know he recognized something different about me.
So, what’s the play call?
Continue to pray for peace in our hearts, in our homes, our churches, and in our nation. Are we reacting in fear or faith? Faith is the most constructive resource for peace.