Summary: Peace is an illusive element in human life, but one we all crave. The Psalmist reminds us that peace is a gift from God and comes from placing our faith in God.
Psalm 46:1-11 “Peace”
Peace is a condition that is universally craved by humankind, yet it is also a condition that is very illusive. Few people and few nations experience true peace. During the history of humankind, it has been estimated that there have been only fourteen years of peace. This daunting statistic, though, does not cause us to slacken our quest for peace.
We wish each other peace in our greetings and our sendings. In the Middle East, the traditional greeting is “Shalom,” “Peace.” When people part, “Shalom” is again shared with each other. Our tradition greeting of “Good Morning,” is an expression of peace, and our standard, “Good Bye” is a shortened version of “God Be with You.” It takes more than a greeting and wishful thinking, though, for peace to become a part of our lives.
Jesus told his disciples that he gave them peace. Paul writes that Christians can experience a peace that is beyond understanding. The question before us then is “How do we experience this peace in our lives, in a significant way?” “How do we live in a peace that is more than the absence of conflict, but involves that dynamic presence of love molding and shaping our lives?
NOT BY STRENGTH
One dead end in our search for peace is that of strength. Unfortunately, we ignore this reality and continue to strive to attain peace by being the strongest, and person, or nation, with the most control.
I am a member of the duck and cover generation. I grew up being trained to believe that ducking under my school desk and covering my head would protect me from nuclear holocaust. For over forty years the superpowers sought to maintain the peace through “MAD logic,” mutual assured destruction. Some may argue that it worked and we did not annihilate each other, I can speak from experience that it did not give us peace. Those were frightening times.
Though the United States is the mightiest nation in the world, we cannot achieve peace. Our strength did not prevent 9/11 from happening, and it cannot bring peace and democracy to Afghanistan or Iraq.
On a much more limited scale, we as individuals seek peace by being strong and in control. It doesn’t work. We are never strong enough and we never have enough control to prevent the realities of life: sickness, death, failure, and broken relationship—to name just a few—from touching our lives.
The Psalmist acknowledges this reality. He writes about nations being in an uproar and nations falling—the strong and powerful nations of his day were unable to achieve let alone maintain peace.
GOD ESTABLISHES THE PEACE
The Psalmist insists that God was the being who brought peace in to his life and world.
In the middle of cataclysmic events, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis the Psalmist was able to express the truth that he found peace in God.
· God was his refuge—a protected place to flee to in order to rest, recuperate, and prepare to face the challenges of life.
· God was his strength—when faced with powerful enemies or circumstances beyond his ability, God enabled him to be an overcomer.
· God’s presence and strength and the Psalmist’s faith in that strength, rather than his own strength allowed him to experience peace in the middle of strife.
· God was a fortress, with wall and ramparts that could not be scaled and that kept him safe.
God’s love, expressed in God’s grace filled movement in our lives gives us peace that passes all understanding. It truly is a peace that the world cannot give.
WE BEHOLD GOD’S LOVE IN STILLNESS
God is involved in our lives and in our world. God intervenes making wars to cease, bows to break, and shattering spears. All of this God does without our help.
God invites us to be still and to behold God’s power and might. This is exactly the opposite of what we would naturally do. When threatened, most of us run around trying to so something—anything—to reestablish the equilibrium of our lives. The invitation continues to be extended, though.
We are overwhelmed by God’s love, when we are still. We behold God’s power and might in our world, when we are quiet enough to discern God’s presence.
In stillness we are reminded that our hope is not in ourselves, but in God.
Peace is not a pipe dream—something that we can only imagine.
Peace can be an everyday experience for us. Peace can be the norm, rather than the extraordinary. Peace is God’s gift to us when we allow ourselves to be reminded of God’s love and power.
God is the source of peace. Therefore, let us continue to pray for peace, in our lives and in our world.