Peace, Not as the World Gives
By Julia Bennett
I'm sorry this season has been hard,she said empathetically.
It's okay, it's just been bittersweet,I paused,
but isn't it almost always bittersweet?
This life we live is full of ups and downs. It is fairly safe to say that in the course of our lifetimes we will all experience a wide range of both joy and suffering.
The conversation above was one I had with a friend last week. This seemingly insignificant conversation made me think. Is life ever truly happy? Is there ever true, unblemished peace? Even when I am overjoyed with the circumstances I find myself in, there are always things in my life that will bother me if I give thought to them. Whether that be a broken relationship, hurtful memories, physical or mental illnesses or even just the mere knowledge that there is constant wickedness and suffering present in the world. On this side of eternity there will always be things that hurt.
I realize that if this post ended here it would sound pretty dismal. Stick with me though, the thought process didn't end there. I realized that what these thoughts were searching for was a sense of comfort. Or, perhaps better put, a sense of peace. I realized that until I stand in the total perfection of Heaven, fully enveloped in the presence of the Father, there are always going to be things that are painful. Yet, even in the places where despair seems like the proper response, there is hope for followers of Jesus. See, Jesus knew that the world was broken by sin. He knew we would suffer, He even made it clear that we would. (Matthew 10:16, Matthew 16:24). He did not promise the Christian that life would be easy, but He did promise us blessing even in the suffering. Out of the many things He promised, for the moment we are going to focus on His promise of peace.
In Matthew 14, Jesus was preparing His followers for His death. At the beginning of the chapter He talked about the place He is preparing for us, that is, Heaven, which is void of all suffering and pain. He went on to talk about who He is in verses 6 and 7, establishing authority as the way for salvation.
He then said in verses 25 to 26,
These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
He does not simply rule from a distance, but He has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit not only to guide us, but to comfort and sustain us.
In the very next verse Jesus said,
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Immediately after explaining that He was leaving a
Helper, the Holy Spirit, to teach us and be with us, He said that part of His gift to us in leaving the earth in physical form was that His peace would remain with us. This peace is not as the world gives, it doesn't mean our lives will be comfortable, that we will have every desire met, or that we will live lives void of suffering. It means that even when we are in the midst of the struggle, His presence is a super-natural peace.
The question I leave you with is a simple one, but is also one that I have been asking myself lately. Are you seeking comfort as the world gives? Or are you resting in the peace Christ offers in the midst of what we might perceive as uncomfortable?