This is a post that I originally wrote back in December of 2016. While the season may be off topic for February, the topic of peace is always relevant, especially when we as a country are grappling with the shooting in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day.
Peace (n): Freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.
“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given., and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
“Peace” is such a simple word that is prevalent this time of year. The problem with peace is it is so hard to procure. We sing about peace – both in the secular and religious songs, and we send cards with “Peace” emblazoned in gold foil across the top. But, what do we really know about peace beyond wishful greetings and fervent hope for our future? Who among us truly lives in peace within our homes, our marriages, our workplaces, our communities or our world?
“In this world you will have trouble[…]” John 16:33
We live in a broken world. I don’t know anyone who could argue against that. There is war. There is sickness. There is poverty. There are family members and friends who are dying and leaving behind people who find a new irreplaceable chunk missing from their lives. Times of apparent joy, like Christmas, suddenly develop a bitterness of shadows and threads of sorrow for the ones we long for again. Our lives march on and we become people whose lives, beings and stories become woven with shimmering threads of hope, some of which are now frayed, only to be mended with darkest yarns of heartache. It’s hard – no impossible – to embrace joy when peace has been lost.
My uncle lays gravely ill and our nearly three year old has been repeatedly asking us to define “peace” for her. As we sing “Silent Night” together, I struggle for the right words to define such a concept to someone so young and tender who thankfully doesn’t understand the black backdrop that peace stands against.
So at Christmastime, as I’m helping our oldest with an advent activity of padding Baby Jesus’ manger with straw, I remind myself to look to the Prince of Peace.
“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.” John 16:33
I searched the Bible for the word “peace,” and not surprisingly, it shows up frequently. But, how is this peace different than the peace that the world strives for?
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
Peace is not something we obtain by ourselves in this world. Any “peace” we think we obtain is temporary. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, gives us peace. Peace is a gift that Jesus gives when we trust in Him. (You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3)
And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
“Peace” is also so much more than the dictionary definition. It is not a passive state of tranquility. The peace that Jesus gives is active. It guards our hearts like a centurion guarding a city. There will be troubles and sorrows in this world that we cannot escape. Loved ones will die. Marriages will struggle and many will fail. Hopes and dreams will be lost. BUT, with trust in the Prince of Peace, we will be provided with peace that will guard our hearts. We will have troubles, but we will not be troubled.
“I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
I am convinced that joy cannot exist without peace, and peace cannot exist without hope. Jesus’ peace would mean nothing if there was no salvation through Him. On the bleakest of days, Jesus was betrayed and was crucified. Despair should have succeed: it seemed the world and its cares and heartaches had won once and for all. But, on the third day Jesus did as he said he would, and he rose again. He took the burden of our sin and its despair and paid the penalty, so we could be free.
In this season of joy and heartache, remember that little impoverished baby lying in a manger in a stinky, dirty stable. This little baby grew up to die for you and for me, so that we can understand true peace. A peace that only the Prince of Peace could provide.
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. John 16:33