Peace (shalom) joins unselfish love as the world's rarest jewels. Peace is not just the absence of conflict. It is the presence of God's approval of how I am relating to Him through Jesus. It stems from receiving, by trust, God's forgiveness: "... since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1). Peace rests on the heartfelt sense that my life is now God's life, and that, as a lasting unearned gift from God, it is worthwhile and always will be worthwhile.
I cannot give myself peace, however much I may pretend to do so. I lack the power of my own to make my life always be worthwhile. In particular, I lack the power of my own to resist my extinction in death. I also lack my own power to avoid my corruption by moral evil, particularly by the strong pull of selfishness. The dark powers of death and moral evil will rob me of peace if I am left to my own powers. I need outside help if I am to enjoy genuine peace. I need God's help. Otherwise, I will be agitated by fear, anger, jealousy, anxiety and failure in the turmoil of selfishness.
Other humans cannot supply the peace I desperately need. They are in the same predicament I am in. They too lack the power of their own to vanquish death and moral evil. They too need outside help. They too need God's help. Social efforts and programs by themselves will never deliver the peace we all need. They fail to give us the gift of God's approval and His lasting sustenance of our lives as worthwhile. Only our gracious Maker can give us the calming gift of forgiveness, approval, and rest in His presence. This gift is courtesy of Jesus, the Prince of true peace. He offers us his friendship, as Lord, that can make our peace more than a momentary episode. This friendship can empower us to have peace as a way of life. We must respond with the spirit of Gethsemane, with this attitude toward God: “Not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36; cf. Matt. 26:39, Luke 22:42). In doing so, we are transformed into people of peace, even God's lasting peace. The struggle of Gethsemane leads to the peace of the living God.
The attitude of Gethsemane is no merely private attitude: it is a prayer to God. Jesus prayed in Gethsemane that His Father's will would be done, even over his own will. The peace of God anchored in friendship with Him depends, as does any friendship, on honest communcation. Prayer is honest communication with God. It is not just a matter of our talking to God. It includes our listening attentively to God and our thereby receiving, willingly and obediently, God's communication with us. Our peace depends on our receiving God's communication in prayer as we submit to God as our loving authority. He asssures us of His merciful love toward us. He assures us that our life in Him, on His terms, is worthwhile and always will be worthwhile.
The sincere prayer of Gethsemane is the sure avenue to peace. It opens us up to receive, as an unearned gift, God's Spirit of peace and love (cf. John 14:25-27). It opens us up to let God be God in our lives. As Helmut Thielicke remarks: "Jesus's powerful speech derives from the power of his prayer life, and the very reason why he can afford to pray so diligently and give the best hours of the day to this communion with the Father is that he knows that while he rests in eternity it is not that nothing is happening but that in doing this he is rather giving place to God's Spirit, that then God is working...." In our prayer in the spirit of Gethsemane, God becomes our Lord and our God. His peace becomes ours too. The counterfeit satisfaction of idols pales in comparison with the satisfaction of God's peace-giving friendship.
peace we receive is that of a listening, obedient creature before his or her
Creator. It is the peace of being in right relationship with God. This relationship
rests on God's loving forgiveness toward us and our receiving this forgiveness
in trust and thanksgiving. Our
sensing this peace can ebb and flow in our lives. It is available, nonetheless,
as we receive and treasure God's gift of reconciling
friendship in Jesus. Our hearts will remain restless until they find their lasting
peace in our Redeemer.
Our idols will then be pointless and even repulsive.
I cannot hear Your peace today.
The storms are madly raging.
The swell and burst of fear and pain
have drowned my ears for You.
But I will wait and wait to hear,
Your quiet, gentle whisper.
My anxious heart awaits for You
and I will hear again:
again the sounds of stillness near
and comfort from within;
again Your Voice,
and warm embrace,
that leaves me
Do not let me hear again
until my ears are clear,
until the waves break
on my heart and shatter
Until I'm quite prepared to go
with You through every storm,
do not let me hear again.
Yet keep me in Your arms.