It’s not enough that we’ve all had to deal with Covid-19 this year, but it seems that every family has had other big things to deal with, too—loss of a job, working at home and overseeing the kids’ schooling, other illnesses or deaths in the family, money worries beyond the normal. My daughter has had two surgeries this year and she is still in a lot of pain and exhaustion. A third surgery is now scheduled for December 23rd. A friend up the street is being treated for lymphoma, a cancer that has lodged in one of her legs and made it difficult for her to walk. One of my sons lost his job this year; fortunately for him, after a couple of months of anxiety, he found a new one. Burden upon burden. The toll it takes on us is huge—anxiety, fear, grief and huge stresses. Add to that George Floyd’s death at the hands of the police, the election and the prolonged reluctance to accede to the results, and we have all had a very difficult year.
How are we to deal with all this? How, when our defenses seem to be down and things just rush at us, can we deal with the toll? It is very difficult not to be drawn into the whole morass that American life seems to add up to today. Here is where the world and God’s kingdom on earth really part ways. The world is where the reality happens and the kingdom is where God supports and helps and counsels, and accompanies us through whatever is happening in our lives. We can live in peace no matter what is going on in the world and even in our lives. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” [John 14:27]
For all that Jesus went through in his sojourn on earth, there was only one moment recorded when He was troubled, when He asked God to relieve Him of “this cup,” his pending death on the cross. [Matthew 26:36-46] Through persecution and betrayal, through the Pharisee’s questioning his actions and motivations, through the difficulties of being an itinerant preacher, Jesus was only troubled by His immanent death. And when he saw no relief from His fate, he prayed “may your will be done.” [v. 42]
His peace and His surrender to His fate are our invitations to pray for God’s peace and to surrender to whatever is in our lives right now. His gift of the Holy Spirit lives in us and with us and for us; He is the vehicle for our living in peace right now. Surely, the world will go on with its anxious ways and rebellions against the masks and vaccines and all, but we who follow Christ, and take heart from how Paul dealt with all his troubles, can rest in His peace and comfort and presence no matter what our lives have come to right now. When I think of the burdens that people around me bear, I am so grateful for God’s love and forgiveness and faithfulness to us, for His support and caring and presence in our lives at the best and worst of times, for the beauty of His creation which has kept me going throughout the years, and for all the people who accompany me—friends and family—during all the times of my life. And I pray for everyone else that they might find this true peace, too, and that we can count on God’s love for each of us to sustain us through difficult and wonderful times.
Questions to ponder over the week: Am I settled in God’s peace or am I rocked by the anxiety and events in the world today? What would I have to do to enjoy God’s peace? What would I have to give up?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who can be at peace no matter what is happening in our lives, in our world. May we be so loving of God that nothing else matters to us by how we are doing in His eyes. May we be able to mourn when we need to and feel all the other emotions and still rest in His peace.
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