Peace

The world talks a lot about peace. We hear it all the time during presidential campaigns and beauty pageants and everything in between. Peace among different factions in our country such as liberals and conservatives. Peace between nations like North and South Korea or India and Pakistan. World peace is the sought after ideal. Occasionally, and usually around the Christmas season, worldly people will even quote from Luke 2:14b: “on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” This they say, while at the same time living in hatred against their neighbors with whom they disagree. This verse is even wrongly interpreted to mean a tolerance for all perspectives, no matter how unbiblical or immoral they are.

God too speaks of peace, but His peace is far different from anything the world can offer. ” Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Earlier in this passage, Jesus talks about the “many mansions” (verse 2) that God has prepared for His saints in Heaven. This entire chapter is about the the “comforter”(verse 26), the Holy Spirit that “…beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God: and if children then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs of Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:16b, 17). In other words, God sent the Holy Spirit to confirm our faith and assure us that we are His children no matter what happens to us.

This peace is the is true peace, the treasure of our souls. This peace comforts us not only in times of joy but in times of sorrow as well. Recently my grandma on my Dad’s side passed away after having dementia for a number of years. It was difficult seeing her deteriorate physically and mentally. At the end of her life she couldn’t communicate  with us at all. Nevertheless we had peace as she was dying because she was a child of God. Most importantly, even though she couldn’t express it, she too had peace with God. We grieved, we shed our tears but, as Paul tells us in I Thessalonians 4:13, “we sorrow not even as others which have no hope.”  In other words, though we mourn the passing of our loved ones as the world does, we do not mourn in the same way that the world mourns. The chief difference is that we know that our loved ones aren’t merely going to a “better place,” but to Heaven which is the best place they can possibly be. This peace gives us the hope and comfort in God that we seek in this life.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” When we, by God’s grace, come to Him and place our confidence in Him, we have that “peace of God which passeth all understanding.” May God grant us this peace!

Kevin Rau

Peace, be still

I know it’s been a while, but I had a moment this summer that really got me thinking. It was back in late July, and I was driving home from a campground late at night. There was a pretty powerful storm coming towards me, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to beat it home, or if I’d have to drive for a while in the torrential rain (or what qualifies as “torrential” in Michigan). Well, I had to drive through the storm for most of the way. Trees were blowing like toothpicks, rain was pelting my car’s windshield, and I was basically scared I was going to wind up in a ditch or hitting another car. I could even see the few streetlights I passed on this country road flicker from the wind and rain.

So I had a thought. This is, for Michigan, a pretty bad storm! It was genuinely scary to be out in. But I could only imagine the sailors who direct boats through this for a living, how they must be incredibly courageous and competent in their abilities to keep the boat afloat and upright. It impressed me. I thought of how bad of a storm it would take to scare the men who spend their lives on the ocean in storms that are much more dangerous than the Michigan thunderstorm I was so afraid to drive in. It would, no doubt, take a terrifying storm to scare those sailors.

Well, Jesus’ disciples were some of those sailors. They were fishermen of the Old Testament, and for many of them, their lives were spent at sea. They were experienced, capable sailors. But as we read in Mark 4:35ff, they too had moments of fear. After Jesus had preached many of his parables (including the many types of ground that seed fell on) he and his disciples had decided to continue the ministry on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. So, after Jesus had finished his preaching, they got into a small ship and began their trip. It was at this time that Jesus went into the back part of the ship and fell asleep (here, we are reminded that our Lord really was flesh!).  He was awoken, not by the severe storm, but by his disciples calling to him in fear, asking whether he even cared that they were going to die. That’s when the incredible happened, Jesus arose and simply rebuked the wind and sea with the phrase “Peace, be still,” and the wind and sea was still. In fact, Mark describes it as “a great calm.”

So, back to my little Michigan thunderstorm.  As I drove, I tried to imagine what it’d be like to have the storm just instantly stop dead in its tracks, as if it were never there. I truly couldn’t picture it. Surely the storm the disciples experienced in this passage was many times worse than the one I was driving through, and Jesus calmed that storm with three simple words. It’s no wonder the disciples spoke in awe, saying “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41). It would’ve made me afraid too, had the storm I was driving in instantly stopped with the words of a man (even a man as renowned and powerful as Jesus).

There’s a lesson for us here. It isn’t that if we pray, we can control the weather. One of the lessons we can take away from this passage is that our savior is mighty beyond imagination! I said earlier that I couldn’t even imagine such a powerful storm stopping in a split second, as if it were never there, but that exact scenario happened many years ago to the disciples.  Truly beyond imagination.

Each of us struggle with things in our personal lives that create in us a storm of emotions. Sometimes we think that we can’t be calmed. We can’t feel happy, as if the hurt never even happened. But that isn’t true. Our faith must be strong in Christ! He can (and will!) prevent us from being overcome by our trials and fears. I also have experienced hurt that seems to be beyond repair, even recently, and so many of God’s people feel indescribable hurt every day. But God can calm the storm in us, and while he may use appropriate means to do so (such as friends, family, or Christian therapy), he certainly doesn’t need those means. All he needs is to whisper three powerful, efficacious words to our souls, the same words he uttered to the storm in the Old Testement.

“Peace, Be Still!”

 

Suzie Kuiper

Be still and know that I am God – Psalm 46:10

This passage brings great comfort to God’s children. Sometimes in the business of our lives it is good to sit and reflect on this passage and what it means to us personally. It is so easy to become busy with work, school, family, and friends that we forget about God or don’t think of Him as often as we should. Those earthly things become big and important to us, and God becomes smaller and less important. Then God gives us a passage like this. Be still. Stop what you are doing. Stop thinking about earthly things, earthly pleasures, worries, or cares. And know that I am God! God gave. He sends us everything in our lives, and we can’t take credit for any of it. If it’s money, He gave it. If it’s a job loss, He took that. He orders our lives and performs His will for our good. And in everything, He is good, and He is God. Never can we question the wisdom of our God in giving or in taking. Never can we think that we are wiser or that if things had gone a different way it would have been better. God knows what we need, and He gives just that. So be still. Ponder the greatness of our God. Think of His love for you and for me! And know that He will remain our God.

LK