Peace

It is our obligation as global citizens to explore ways to secure peace at home and abroad. Many countries, including our own are experiencing unrest because of old and new grievances. It is our hope to find the remedies that heal the wounds in our homelands no matter what half of the equator we live in. On the global scene, in recent memory starting in the 1920’s with the League of Nations centered in Geneva and in our day the United Nations in New York, along with other global governmental bodies, and philanthropic organizations; global citizens have desperately tried and are still trying to secure international peace.

The Scripture seems to speak of a hopeful time of peace in the book of Revelation; at sometime in our future it appears there will be a symbolic or literal thousand years of peace. This prophecy seems fantastical but with God anything is possible. It is hopeful the coming generations of peace-seekers, sooner than later, will eat the fruit of their labors both at home and abroad. Although domestic and global peace is coveted by all that seek it, this is not the particular subject of this writing. The peace that we are considering in this essay is an inward peace; in the heart, in the soul, or both.   

Let’s first consider peace in the heart. When we speak of the heart we are speaking of our emotional life. It’s not hard to agree that a peaceful heart is better than one that is in turmoil and upset. Many of us know what it is to have peace in our hearts. How much of it and how often is mostly predicated on favorable circumstances and relationships. It’s hard to feel peaceful in our hearts when things are going wrong. It’s easy to feel peaceful when things are going right. 

Let’s assume that things are going well for us. We find love. We feel peaceful and content in our heart. Families with little drama and conflict create a peaceful environment and peaceful hearts for all. We are able to save money. We squirrel it away or invest it. This makes us feel secure and gives us a sense of peace. Little or no debt relieves stress. We are peaceful. We are respected by people because of some achievement or maybe we are perceived as an honorable or credible person. We feel settled and peaceful with our development. People like us easily, we have a friendly and amiable disposition. We feel peaceful because we have a lot of friends we can count on and connect with. Over time we have made peace with ourselves. With all our quirks and limitations we finally accepted ourselves, who we are, what we do, what we’ve done or might do in life. These are some of the ways we feel a sense of peace in our hearts. And it’s all good! 

Now let’s consider peace in the soul. This Peace is one of the Fruits of the Spirit and one of the Fruits of the Vine in this essay. Peace in our Heart is different than Peace in our Soul. The one is mostly emotional. This is peace in our hearts; predicated on favorable circumstances and good relationships. The other is mostly spiritual. This is peace in the soul; a deep sense of well being that that comes from God alone. Of course, if we have peace in our hearts along with a deep sense of well being in our souls we have the best of both worlds, so to speak. And the good thing is many times in life this is exactly how it is. But unfortunately, there are times when things are collapsing around us. Life ’s routines and patterns have been disrupted; relationships severed, livelihoods tampered with, a devastating loss of a loved one, and other evolving circumstances. Life is less than we thought it would be, and certainly not what it was. We have to recalibrate. And it’s tough. Our emotional life is a wreck. Our expectations minimized and our losses overwhelming. We are in transition. We are in recovery mode. Hard to find peace in our hearts; maybe even impossible, at least for now. As people of faith we know what’s left for us. 

Dear Soul, you have God. God has not forsaken you. Know this; if you brought these heartaches on yourself or if you didn’t. God is still with you. He will not leave you or forsake you for any reason. God will give you peace in your soul. Peace beyond the why of things; a peace beyond diminishing prospects for your life, or the one you think you should have. Go to God Dear Soul. Spend time with Him. Search out a daily place for prayer, reading the Word of God, comforting books, and no less listen to what God has to say to your Soul. The secret and subtle impressions in the soul that speak – it will be well with you. This kind of Peace, is a gift from God. 

It is puzzling to our human way of thinking when our hearts are so heavy and we are in a state of emotional and psychological disorientation – yet we still have the Peace of God in our souls. We feel around in the dark and find the doorways that lead us out of despair and despondency into the light. The soul is at peace. There is a beloved hymn written by a Presbyterian layman Horatio G. Spafford. As a young man Spafford established a successful legal practice in Chicago. He was well positioned financially. Spafford was not only financially successful, he was consider a person of fine Christian character; once it was quoted that ‘he was a noted musician, of unusual intelligence and refinement, deeply spiritual and a student of the Word of God.”  

Spafford lost a considerable amount of money in a real estate investment on the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago. The Chicago Fire in 1871 wiped out considerable holdings. But he was a good manager and a measured risk taker – he was far from broke. Yet, Spafford wanted emotional reprieve so he decided to go on a vacation with his family and also wanted to join a friend of his, renown preacher D. L. Moody in his European evangelistic campaign in Great Britain. Some last minute business obligations prevented Spafford from going with his wife and four daughters on the voyage, so he booked his ticket on another ship and expected to leave for Europe in a few days after clearing his calendar. 

A few days into the voyage, the ship carrying his wife and children was struck by an English vessel. It sank in twelve minutes. Mrs. Spafford survived. She cabled her husband these two words saved alone. After learning that he lost his daughters, Spafford left for Europe to be with is wife in bereavement.  On his voyage, he penned one of the most beloved hymns ever written, It is well with my soul. This is the first verse, When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When arrows like sea-billows roll, Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul. There is much more to say about Spafford but this is enough Dear Soul. 

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