It is fascinating to me that in our increasingly secular society, there is nevertheless a deep hunger for many of the attributes of our God. I was thinking today about ‘peace’, and what a high value is placed on finding peace in our busy and frenetic world. There are many differing uses and contexts for the word ‘peace’. We can think of ‘peace’ as an absence of hostilities, as in a physical war, or even a war of words. The word can also conjure up an internal state, ‘peace of mind’, freedom from worry and concern.
However the word is used, it conveys something that is universally desired by many individuals and people groups. It also something that seems very hard to find. Most often people try to find peace by removing the things that disturb their peace. They may remove themselves from situations that threaten their peace, they may avoid conflict or they may bury or silence the voices or situations that bring them disquiet.
Wonderfully we know that our God is in fact the source of real peace. ‘Peace’ emanates from Him, so no surprise that it’s a word that we hear a great deal around Christmas time – sadly no longer a peaceful time for many people. The link with ‘peace’ comes from the angel’s message to the shepherds when they sang, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favour rests’ Luke 2:14. It also comes from the fact that the Christmas story heralds the wonderful arrival of ‘The Mighty God who is also the Prince of Peace’ Isaiah 9:6 into what was, at the time, a far from peaceful world.
It isn’t the only time God identifies Himself as the bringer of peace into a fraught situation. Gideon was questioning his visitor, who he thought was an angel, about all the trouble that the Israelites were having with the Midianites. He was asking whether God had abandoned His people. He then realised that he was in fact talking to the Lord and he panicked, expecting to die. At that point the Lord says “Peace! Don’t be afraid. You are not going to die”. Gideon then builds an altar and calls that place ‘Jehovah Shalom’ – The Lord is Peace’.
In both instances God manifests Himself as a bringer of peace into a troubled world or a troubled situation, and it is notable that in both of those instances He doesn’t remove the problem but brings who He is, Jehovah Shalom, right into the world with all its turmoil. He comes as the Prince of peace into Roman occupied Israel and to Gideon in the middle of his war with the Midianites.
I think we are often deceived into thinking that peace will come to us if we can put an end to the things that disturb and worry us. That peace will come when those things stop. Unfortunately focusing on trying to avoid or stop those things that disturb our peace can simply make things worse. Peace is actually something we can have because we have the Prince of Peace living in our lives. He is the bringer of real peace that displaces our worries fears and unrest. He wants to give us His peace in the midst of everything else, even before what is troubling us goes away.
Paul described this as ‘the peace of God which transcends all understanding’, and which will ‘guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’. Philippians 4:7. So today rather than fight our fears, worries and anxieties, let us turn to the Lord and thank Him that His peace is an invading kind of peace, that it displaces fear and worry and dispeace. Thank Him that we don’t have to wait for all the wars, both in our inner and outer world, to cease, but that we can invite Him ‘The Prince of Peace’ into any part of our lives where there is lack of peace.
Let us thank Him that He is our Jehovah Shalom, and that His life in us is our source of real peace.