Thursday, October 20, 2016

Peace: Pursuing the Elusive

There's something peaceful, serene about a sunset.
If only all of life were so filled with peace.
Peace. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Seems peaceful just to say the word. “Peace” – aaaahhhh! If only finding and experiencing peace were so easy, right?

When was the last time you truly felt at peace? Maybe you’re an easygoing, glass-is-half-full type of person that’s seldom ruffled. If so, congratulations. Your “peace meter” probably registers a lot higher on the scale than for most of us that find peace to be a highly desired, but very elusive commodity.

There are all kinds of factors that can disrupt our sense of peace: Family conflict. A large, unexpected bill that appears in the mailbox. A major repair required for the home or the car. An adverse health diagnosis.

It seems everywhere we look, there are
warnings of impending calamity.
If you suspect you’ve been feeling too peaceful of late, just turn on the news. That will remedy that. Between the natural disasters, acts of terror, traffic mayhem, unsettling economic forecasts, reports of violence and senseless killings, not to mention unrelenting, polarizing politics, you’d find more peace putting your hand into a tank of starving piranhas.

So where can we find peace and fill our longing for calm in the midst of life’s constant storms? We could just close our eyes, stick our fingers in our ears and sing, “La, la, la, la,” until we run out of breath. We can adopt a Pollyanna attitude, insisting on concentrating only on things positive and determinedly avoiding everything negative.

Or we can turn to the only true, uncompromising, ever-dependable source of peace, Jesus Christ. He promised, 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.” Amazingly, Jesus said this fully aware of what lay ahead for Him: rejection by adoring followers, ridicule, torture and crucifixion. As unspeakable horror for Himself loomed in the near future, Jesus spoke confidently of peace.

The apostle Paul, no stranger to persecution – both as the inflictor and the victim – offered similar assurances. He wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Recently a friend was telling me about his open-heart surgery, when the heart is literally stopped for a period of time while coronary bypass grafts are performed. He spoke about the incredible sense of peace he felt, which truly transcended human understanding, even knowing there was a possibility of a stroke during the procedure, or even death if his heart did not restart. That was my experience as well nearly 10 years ago. Peace in the face of uncertainty.

Peace, in large measure, is a choice. We can focus on the chaos and turmoil in our lives and around the world, and our stomachs will be in a continual churning cycle. Or we can concentrate on Christ, trusting Him for peace in the midst of the storm.

That’s why I so appreciate the refrain from the old hymn: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

Are you longing for peace today, but lacking it? Could be you’re looking for it in the wrong places.

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