Shortly before his death Jesus turns to his disciples and says Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. Within hours Jesus was crucified, the disciples scattered, everything in their world came crashing down! Peace! How could they know peace in the midst of such pain and chaos? How indeed? I share with you an article I read some time ago by Ian Coffey who helpfully explains how each of us can know the peace Jesus offers.
A visitor to an art gallery found that two exhibits shared the same title. The paintings were entitled ‘Peace’ but were totally different. The first was a rural landscape in which the artist had captured a perfect summer’s day. The picture oozed tranquillity and invitingly beckoned the viewer to feel the warm sun and hear the gentle sounds of nature.
The second was a seascape with dark clouds and lashing rain. The picture showed a cliff-face standing proud against an angry sea. Everywhere was violent movement but in the cleft of the rock the artist had painted a bird on its nest. In the middle of a raging storm, the bird was resting in complete safety.
Those two interpretations of peace offer us a parable in troubled times. For some, peace is like a tranquil summer’s day when nothing appears to disturb the picture. It is all about cloudless skies and endless sunshine. Thank God, such times do come.
But in reality, life is not always like that. Whichever scale we use to measure – global or personal, macro or micro – life produces storms from time to time. Interestingly, the second picture, of the bird resting in the middle of a howling gale, is closer to the Bible’s teaching about God’s gift of peace. Peace is not so much the absence of trouble but the relaxation of heart and mind that comes in the midst of trouble.
Paul was an influential church leader who wrote much of the New Testament. He saw peace as an important ingredient of the Christian message. He stressed the primary importance of individuals discovering peace with God. And that is only possible through all that Jesus achieved by dying and rising again.
Paul taught that peace with God is a gift that all can enjoy because of Jesus. On the basis of this new relationship we can experience the peace of God in every circumstance that life throws up. He describes it as ‘the peace of God which transcends all understanding’ and speaks of the way it can ‘guard your hearts and your minds’ (Philippians 4:7).
As one writer of a previous generation expressed it, ‘If God be our God, he will give us peace in trouble. When there is a storm without, he will make peace within. The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble.’
If you are going through a tough season at the moment please do not go though it on your own. We would love to pray for you; pray with you. You can contact either me or Chris Burr vicar of St Denys on the contact numbers found on this page or the page for St Denys Church.