What do you think of when you hear the word peace?
Parents or teachers have probably said something like, “If only I could get 5 minutes of peace and quiet!”
Biblically speaking, I think most people think of peace on earth, that is a sense of perfect peace, which suggests that we all get along. The dictionary definition of peace is freedom from disturbances, quiet and tranquil.
The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, means completeness, success, fulfilment, wholeness, harmony, security, and well-being.
Even when life is chaotic, peace exists because it doesn't come from what is happening around us. This kind of perfect peace only comes from God. It is whole and complete and is a condition or state of being and is not dependent on circumstances.
God created a universe of peace.
Everything He created fits flawlessly together. In fact, God's creation was designed to function perfectly.
Day and night, the moon's cycles, the seasons, and the renewal of life each spring are predictable. The intricacies of the amazing human body down to the molecular level are incredible.
Indeed, God’s creation functions so splendidly that we often take it for granted and never even give it a second thought as we go throughout our busy days.
If God's creation is so perfect, why can’t we achieve peace on our own? Why can’t we all just get along?
Adam and Eve lived in perfect peace in the Garden of Eden until sin entered the world. With sin came chaos. With chaos comes sickness, war, social strife, and a broken covenant with God.
Chaos...that sounds all too familiar. Agitation, discord, and distress abound. For that exact reason, I felt God guiding me in a different direction this week.
A Change of Plans
It wasn't my intention to devote an entire week to peace. As I researched and outlined the various weeks of my writing plan, this part of the outline kept growing. The more I thought about it, the clearer it became that this was a timely topic that merited a deep dive.
Satan is the father of division and disorder. His goal is to steal, kill, and destroy, and peace appears to be right in the bullseye of the enemy's target.
There have been major disruptions to our lives over the past year. For many, security has been ripped out from under us. Unease, worry, and fear can dominate us if we aren't careful.
Without peace, we are effectively kept off-balance. This is a valuable tool of the enemy to keep us distracted from God's plans. Seeking solace from the stress sends us on a search for peace, but often not in the right place.
A Quest for Perfect Peace
Our minds desire tranquility and quiet. In our hectic lives and this chaotic world, peace can be so elusive. Our quest to find something to take its place becomes a goal.
The interesting part about this search is that most of us who engage in it don't even realize what we are doing.
An extensive list of those things used to fill the hole left without the peace of God would be hard to pen.
I propose that money, status, material possessions, other people, and substance abuse would top the list, and this is the problem.
Anything other than God is temporary, unsatisfying, and deceiving. It is only good until its effects wear off, and then the hunt continues for the next “thing.” Our search for things will never bring perfect peace…the kind of peace that guards and protects us.
Paul writes of this kind of peace as a part of the armor of God.
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”. Ephesians 6:13-15
I had always wondered why soldiers would wear sandals. When I'm going out to walk or work in the yard, I never wear sandals. I always feel like I need more protection than a sandal provides. However, the soldier's sandal was designed to provide protection.
First, and probably most obvious, having the thick sole on a shoe allowed the soldier to walk far greater distances. Also, the open weave of a sandal allowed the foot to be cooled, and there was nothing to rub and cause blisters on their feet, ankle, or calves. A significant addition was metal studs, or hobnails, on the bottom to give the soldier secure footing in rough or slick terrain. Also, these same spikes could be used as a weapon against a fallen enemy.
Practical Application of Perfect Peace
Without his sandals, the soldier was ill-prepared for the battle. Similarly, we aren't properly equipped for the world without God's perfect peace securely in place for traversing the rocky road in front of us. Finding perfect peace requires one action on our part, and the other is a gift from God.
Peace with God
There is only one way for us to have peace with God. Many think they can be "good enough" to earn a place in heaven. As sinners saved by Grace, we and can never be good enough and will always fall short of God's holiness.
Because sin separates us from God and there is nothing we can do, He gave us Jesus to die in our place. Jesus took on our sin when He died on the cross. There is no verse better than John 3:16 to explain what God did for us.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. John 3:16
If you are struggling with peace, the first step is to evaluate your personal relationship with Jesus. From this relationship, the perfect peace of God can flow into your life.
Peace of God
This peace can't really be understood from a human perspective. Think back to the word shalom. It means peace despite the circumstances around us.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. Philippians 4:7, ESV
If you are struggling with this kind of peace, consider the areas where the enemy might be attacking you.
There may be areas of your life where you feel chaos, unrest, or conflict. Do you feel attacked physically or emotionally? The first step to overcoming the attack is awareness. Once you are aware, then you can focus on the good things God is doing for you.
If you'd like some extra support in this area, you might consider reading another piece on the blog, A Prayer for Perfect Peace.