In a world torn by conflicts and war, people seek peace. Many mourn the lack of peace and grieve over violence. Others question why war exists; hasn’t God has promised peace? When you listen to the news, it seems peace doesn’t exist. Even in our homes, peace seems elusive. Couples bicker and divorce, siblings argue and fight. The book of Isaiah sheds light on peace: “If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river” (48:18a NIV). One prerequisite to peace is obeying God’s commands. But what about peace…”like a river”? To fully appreciate this concept of peace like a river, imagine a great river running through the land.
The broad river, a constant presence, flows despite obstacles. Sometimes the river runs smoothly; at other times it runs headlong into a snag, separating and diverting its water to other paths. The water flows peacefully on, until downstream it smashes full force against the rocks, shattering spray high in the air. Flowing to the top of a sharp drop-off, the water rushes forward, falling… falling…rushing over the edge, churning and boiling at the bottom. After a time the waters collect in a still pool, resting, reveling in the quiet.
During my mother’s last years, her mind ravaged by dementia, my river of peace constantly ran against snags of her lost memory. My peace plummeted over the precipice of countless hours of watching her mind rapidly losing rational thought and memory. Constantly swirling and eddying, the waters rushed me from work to assist Dad with her care. Emotional whirlpools threatened to spin out of control. The only thing that kept my sanity during this difficult time was God’s peace.
You may ask how I could feel peace when my world was turned upside down. In Galatians 5:22, we learn that peace is a fruit of the Spirit. Only the spirit of God can give us peace in the midst of the snags, rocks, waterfalls, and whirlpools of life. So how do we receive this peace? We can’t buy it in a store; we can only receive it as a gift from God. When our life’s circumstances shatter against the rocks, placing trust in God’s perfect will keeps us at peace despite trying circumstances. Jesus tells us he leaves us peace, but “I do not give you [peace] as the world gives” (John 14:22 NIV). The countries of the world may continue to fight, and we still experience difficulties and tragedies. But when we obey God’s commands and trust Him, no matter how difficult our circumstances, we experience His peace, flowing like a river deep within our souls.
Isaiah 26:3 “You [God] will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trust in you.”
Thank you, Father, for providing your perfect peace.