The most ancient civilizations in our world speak of peace as "being made whole". In fact, in the Middle East where one of these venerable cultures still exists, the word "Shalom" means exactly that- "Wholeness". This is very significant for those of us who live in a world that feels very fragmented.
It means that inner peace is not so much the product of engaging in satisfying experiences, having sufficient resources, or even creating personal security through exercising control over our lives. Instead, having a quiet inner calm in our spirits comes from being made whole!
But, is that even possible today?! Where can we be made whole? Feel totally put together? Have all our emotions fly in formation? The thought of that is like wanting to buy a totally gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy free take-out meal from a fast food restaurant. Is that even possible?!
How can we feel complete rather than conflicted? Settled instead of shattered? Undisturbed not disintegrated? No longer panicked but at peace?
I've had some folks tell me "Well, you know, it's just a matter of mind over matter" What they usually mean is to put our pain into perspective…and we should then be able to ignore the feelings that flow from the pain. But, as we all know, that only goes so far. Some problems like Covid restrictions, economic shut-downs, and feelings of depression are much too great to simply think our way out of them. These are not level 1 escape room scenarios. No, to be at peace within ourselves we must go much further and deeper in our thinking.
So, what is the answer? I believe we must find that which is whole outside of ourselves and embrace it for ourselves! Like finding a rock to cling to when you're suddenly caught up in a flash flood while crossing a stream….encountering a plumber who is totally ethical, affordable, and quick to respond to your call about a flooding bathroom. These sources of help offer a source of wholeness that is outside of ourselves. And when we embrace it, we disco ver a whole new level of inner peace, regardless of how wild the waters or how flooded our house is.
But, do such stable and wholistic things exist in the larger scheme of things when our entire word seems to be turning upside down. Yes they do! We find life's greatest source of peace and wholeness in the same place…at the same pitstop… where previous generations encountered new direction and personal stability for themselves…. in the God of the Bible!
The Jewish teacher, Paul, wrote these words to his very troubled world:
"Rejoice in the Lord always…I will say it again rejoice!…The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious (pause and read that last line again for yourself). But in everything, by prayer and repeated requests that include giving thanks, let your requests be made known to God. AND THE PEACE OF GOD, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts (feelings) and your minds (thoughts) in Christ Jesus!" (Philippians 4:4-7)
Notice the handholds on this mighty rock available for our grasp. First, God is at hand…nearby…not a distant Deity…and that creates joy, which is the kissing cousin of peace. Paul knew that God is perfect and without fault. That he is wholesome and powerful, and deeply concerned with the needs of people, committed to their well-being. Like a strong well-trained swift-water rescue swimmer, God is at hand when we find ourselves in over our heads. Acknowledging that reality is the first step towards finding peace.
Second, God welcomes our outcries of pain and struggle. He urges us to talk to him, repeatedly, and let Him know what our requests are in every area of life. Our oldest grandson is unabashed about letting us know what he wants for lunch when he's hungry at our home. And we love hearing his repeated requests-- and meeting them-- because we love him! In the same way, God loves hearing your requests too!
Third, God is that place of wholeness we need where we can find peace…and not just any ol' peace. Rather it is a peace that surpasses our ability to comprehend it…even to understand why we feel at peace! It is a peace that settles our outraged feelings and answers our desperate questions in a way we can't really even begin to explain. His wholeness becomes our place of rest!
So, in the midst of this years craziness and crisis, if you desire a settled sense of renewal in your heart and life, take time to recognize that God is still around, that he cares deeply for you and welcomes your desperate cries for help, and that because he is whole, perfect, and powerfully able he can radically calm your heart. Simply put…talk to Him! And in doing this, you will experience a whole new level of inner settled calm than you ever have before. You may not be able to explain it, but you surely will appreciate it. He is the rock in our times of distress!