Thursday, September 30, 2010

Peace is only a Piece

     The past couple of days/weeks have been filled with trials, due to circumstances that I won't go into or dwell on. Needless to say, it has left me exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I haven't really blogged much because either I didn't feel inspired or didn't want to write anything that didn't have a happy, care-free tone to it. Which I realize now goes completely against what I said when starting this blog: that I didn't want it to become a part of any kind of "beauty contest." It's important to remember that it is okay to not be okay, and it is more than okay to be transparent about it. I was reading the Word of God for some comfort and strength when I came across this verse:

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid."
- John 14:27

     It got me to thinking: what is peace? What does it mean to receive peace from God? Surely it doesn't mean peace in the sense of the absence of war or conflict, because Christ said he did not come to bring that type of peace in Matthew 10:34. In fact, He says he came to "bring a sword" and to "set a man against his father." We know that Christ does not prevent us from having battles; He equips us and prepares us for them. So the word "peace" in this context should (and does) shout out at us as an important term. He does, after all, refer to it as the gift He is leaving us; something the world cannot give us.
     To find this answer I looked at the Hebrew word Christ uses when He refers to the peace He is leaving us. It turned out to be shalom. So I looked up shalom in Strong's Concordance, and these are the definitions it gave: completeness, wholeness, health, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.....and peace. The Hebrew root of shalom is shalam, meaning to be safe or complete. 
     Isn't that amazing, wonderful, and beautiful? Christ's gift to us is completeness, wholeness, welfare, etc. He says in this verse that the world cannot give us these things. When we try to use things on Earth to make us whole or complete or safe, we are let down, broken, and disappointed 100% of the time. Which is where I (and just about everyone) find myself: broken. Why? Because I've allowed myself to depend on things of this world for happiness and completeness - finances, friends, academics, family, relationships, etc. Most of these are established by God and are definitely good and are meant to enrich our lives, but are not meant to make us whole or complete. When any of the things of this world that we turn into strongholds (or a combination of them) start to hit a rough spot (and they most certainly will), it can be completely devastating and stressful. Even if they are all going smoothly, they will never be enough. There will always be an emptiness and dissatisfaction within us. We will always want more. There is only one love that can satisfy us and make us complete, whole, and right with God: Christ. If we allow Christ to be our stronghold and trust Him as the mighty rock that He is, He will never ever disappoint us. His love endures forever.
     The things in this world that we depend on can do many things for us, and may even give us feelings of peace and happiness. Friendships and relationships are beautiful, God-given gifts in our lives and can help us ease our burdens and grow. But what in this world, when faced with the attacks of Satan, stands a chance? What in this world can keep us safe from his spiritual warfare? 
     There is only one name that can make Satan quiver and flee: Christ. If we rebuke Satan in Christ's name, he will flee 100% of the time. We will be protected and safe. The peace that God gives us is not the elimination of trials, conflict, or trouble, it is the guarantee that when those times come we will come out of them remaining complete, whole, and in the safety of God's righteous and loving arms. This is confirmed and reassured to us later by Christ when He says to His disciples:

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
- John 16:33

     Again, we see Christ referring to achieving peace in Him. Completeness in Him, wholeness in Him, perfection in Him, well-being in Him, protection in Him, and safety in Him. Shalom in Him, and Him alone. Peace may be the best translation of what Jesus is saying, but it is truly only a piece of His gift to us. It is okay to be going through troubles, and it is okay to not be okay. Christ foretold of all of the troubles we are going through, and desperately wants to be the peace that we live in through it all. He knows that the world cannot complete us and lead us to the life we were meant to have. He loves us so much and wants to guide us to the path of righteousness. He does all this yes, for the glory of God and so that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:13), but also for our own good and so that we may have life. Jesus states (again, in the gospel of John): "I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)"
     We have all heard the expression "live life to the fullest." And especially in times of trouble, that's what we wish we could do. Christ came to fulfill that in our lives. He came so that we could live life to the fullest! We can only achieve that through Him. We need His peace, His completion of our lives, His wholeness in our beings, and His protection. So if you find yourself in that low place, broken and discouraged, take heart! Christ has overcome this world and all the troubles in it. He has brought you His peace so that you may have life to the fullest extent. He is so good.

in His grip,