What does it mean to be at peace? To experience peace, oftentimes we think we need to be alone out in the middle of nowhere. Peace is usually associated with calm, like the eye of a storm or the vast openness of the countryside. Actually, its first definition in the dictionary refers to a the harmony between people groups during the absence of war. But is peace really stillness? Can you only be peaceful when everything is calm?
I have learned that peace isn’t necessarily something you can find when everything is quiet. It’s actually more the other way around. Real peace doesn’t come in those moments when nothing is wrong; real peace comes at the times when everything is going crazy and you have to trust that God is going to work it out. That is real peace.
Today’s verse is John 14:27.
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
When Jesus was explaining to the Disciples that He had to leave, this is one of the statements that He made. He was leaving, but He wasn’t leaving them with nothing.
What is the difference between the peace we get from the world and the peace we get from God? Is there a difference? Jesus said there was.
The world’s peace is wrapped up in securities and possessions and position. Wealth and status and control–if you have all these things you can have peace because there’s nothing that can hit you that you can’t survive. Right? Peace is knowing you’ve got everything under control. It’s knowing you have money in the bank. It’s knowing you have health insurance. It’s knowing you have a family vision plan. It’s making enough to pay your mortgage. It’s a job you may not like but that pays the bills. It’s not having to worry about anything (except we still worry, don’t we?).
So if that’s peace, what happens when you lose your job? What happens when you don’t have money in the bank and your health insurance goes away? What happens when you can’t pay your mortgage? What happens to your peace?
That’s not the kind of peace Jesus is talking about.
Peace from the world is temporary because anything the world offers is temporary. Finding peace in material things is a really bad idea because those things can be destroyed or taken away. We just had more bad storms blow through Kansas last night, and many folks had a good deal of property damage.
The peace Jesus is talking about in this verse is something that only comes from the Holy Spirit. I wish I knew Greek so I could get the exact word, but the context of the verse from the Message is basically saying that even though Jesus was leaving, He wasn’t leaving us incomplete. God provided everything we needed through the Holy Spirit, so we have no cause to be afraid or distraught.
Peace from God defies explanation.
This verse is pretty much saying that Jesus gave us His peace, the peace He has. Talk about mind blowing! To have the kind of peace that Jesus experienced? So when I think about peace, I don’t think about the eye of a storm where everything is calm; I think about Jesus walking in the midst of a storm and calming it.
The peace we get from God is based in our trust that He knows what He’s doing.
We trust that God doesn’t make mistakes and that He is big enough to work everything in our lives (the good and the bad) together to do something amazing. And if we can trust Him, we get peace because we’re not worrying about the things we can’t control. And we’re not anxious about life. And no matter what comes at us, we aren’t afraid because God is bigger than any obstacle in our path.
In the Amplified Bible, it clarifies a statement out of this verse by saying: “Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.”
Peace is a gift, but trust is a choice.
We can allow ourselves to be frightened. We can allow ourselves to anxious. But we don’t have to allow ourselves to be that way. Instead of choosing to feel fear and indecision, we can choose to trust that God is in control. And when we do that, the Holy Spirit will give us His peace. Not the quiet, soothing, calmness of the open country or the beach or the mountains; nothing nearly so romanticized as that. Most of the time, you’ll just get to sit at an oasis in a sandstorm.
And don’t make the mistake of thinking that peace negates grief. Grief is often necessary, and there’s a time and place for it. But peace supersedes it.
God’s peace is something no one can take away from you. And the awesome thing about God’s peace is that it allows you to bring calm into other peoples’ storms too. It doesn’t mean the storm is over. It just means you don’t have to be afraid of it.