Peace on Earth, Peace in our Hearts
I often associate the word peace with quiet and stillness. I picture calm waters or green meadows and hear the words of Psalm 23 gently echo in my mind : “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” The more that I reflect on these words and their resulting association with the idea of peace however, doubtful questions begin to rise in my mind. If peace means green pastures, quiet waters, and a calm soul, does true peace even exist? Will I, or much less, those who are disadvantaged within our society ever come to hold peace in the midst of a world and a life that boils over with commotion, division, and chaos?
I have come to find that the answer is not always that this world needs more or better peace, but that it needs a new definition. I have found that whenever my definition of peace is linked with the circumstances of quiet waters and green pastures in my life, I am most often left disappointed and my picture of who is included in the idea of peace becomes far too limited as it seems that this world never fails in its offerings of raging storms and dry weeds, especially to those who are already in need. It is as this point that I must turn to the words of Jesus for direction and hope. In speaking to his disciples in a time of unrest, Jesus speaks, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14: 27). I find it interesting that Jesus does not call for change, or promise any positive shift in circumstance, but yet calls his followers to remain unafraid still. I find it even more interesting that it is this very call to action that is associated with peace. In this definition peace does not come from the outside, but instead seems to flow from a security within.
It is here in this new definition of peace that my questions find rest. It is here that I find the courage to believe that even in the midst of chaos, a perfect peace really can exist. Because here, in the words of Jesus I find a peace that does not discriminate or only benefit those who get to live in the privileges of quiet waters and green pastures. Here instead I find a peace that transcends all weather and landscapes, that does not choose the rich, nor is reserved only for the poor. This peace does not shrink back and disappear in the storm, nor does it scream for attention in the sunlight, but rather this peace is constant and true. This peace, the peace of Jesus Christ, reminds me that no matter who we are and no matter what we face, there is a presence of endless love, grace, and security, accessible to all, that is sure to follow.
SCRIPTURE: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” -John 14:27
REFLECT: Think about your own associations with the word “peace”. Is/has your definition of peace been reserved for only those with the privilege of green pasture and quiet water circumstances in life?
How may a new understanding of peace change the lens of dignity in which you view others with less privileged circumstances than you?