Troubled Hearts in Need of Peace
We live in a world full of turmoil. Enmity is the rule of the day, opposition and division drives public discourse. On a personal level, trials of various degree are just around the corner. Many suffer from emotional or mental trauma. A sense of peace is elusive, especially if we rely on short-term happiness bound to our up and down circumstances. How can we have hearts at rest, regardless of what we face? Is there something we can trust in life?
In Isaiah 26:3 we read: Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (KJV)
The level of peace here is beyond the absence of its opposite. Contrary to our modern definition of the word perfect, where we would assume having no problems or difficulties, it conveys a sense of completeness. To seek never having troubles is impossible, while completeness transcends hardship.
When it comes to trust, the amount we give or rest on is only as good as the object it is in. Practical examples would be a car which will not start and is falling apart, you are not going to trust it to get you very far. If you know someone who has let you down frequently and hurt you often, you will not trust that person as you would a reliable one.
In Christ, we have a God who is trustworthy in His almighty power and complete care over our lives. The bottom will not drop out, we have a sure rest in Him.
We love our independence, however. We pride ourselves on relying on our own efforts and abilities. Complete trust calls us to die to dependence on ourselves and entirely trust God. We give up control over our own life and lay it in the hands of Jesus. It is safe to trust this way because He is the absolute. God’s truth and character are infinitely reliable. What are insurmountable trials for us are tiny for God, while what seems too trivial for attention also engages His care over us.
The orthodox Jewish Bible (a Messianic Bible using Yiddish and Hasidic expressions) uses the word Shalom for the word peace. Shalom is rich in meaning, beyond our ideas of superficial immediacy. According to Strong’s Concordance, Shalom means completeness, soundness, welfare, and peace. The word is used to convey safety, soundness, welfare, restfulness, quiet, tranquility, contentment, and peace with God. It does not connote the absence of something, the removing of a state. Rather, the presence of these in completeness and wholeness. Shalom is not a sometimes thing or pleasant reactions to agreeable circumstances.
Beyond the Superficial
We may understand the term trust, we may understand the word peace, though we may not possess the experience of them in our day-to day-lives. To know profound peace, we remain incomplete unless we address our relationship with God. How we relate to God, how we see or understand Him-or do not-is the deepest cause of inner conflict. Wrote Blaise Pascal, “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God Himself.”
Humanity has fallen. Since God is holy and we are not, we have a sin problem which causes enmity with God. Jesus said, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24, NASB). In our day we attempt to assuage this guilt by denying human depravity exists. Unless we address our relationship to the true God, the living God who is, our own attempts at peace are mere band aids. Shalom is available to us in Christ. He died for our sins and separation from God. When we receive Him our sins are wiped away, we are clean. Having faith in Christ, there is no longer separation between us and God. We are in an inseparable relationship, one where we are fully accepted and loved.
Needy by Design
We have great need of God’s love. As Edward T Welch expresses in Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest, we are needy by design. We were created to depend on God. Through the pain of life, sometimes in the chemistry of our brains, or scarring experiences, we are deeply broken. There are places within us so deep we cannot fathom it on our own which only God can fully heal. Though pressed-in or experiencing unrest, in Christ we have intimate access to the Father who can heal us in our innermost being. Total love, complete acceptance by the Almighty, is the source of peace that transforms lives of turmoil into that of joy.
The practice of this joy, the outworking of trusting God each day, brings peace with God into peace with ourselves and with others. God's character and blessing transcend our trials with His strength in our weakness.
Praise God for His mercy. We cry out to Him in vulnerability and need. He answers in unmerited grace. A life touched by amazing grace will never be the same. Love blessed shalom is in the person of Jesus Christ.
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