Summary: Peace is God holding you together while everything else around you is falling apart.
Jehovah Shalom – The Lord Who Is Peace
Martin R De Haan II in his booklet: “Surviving the Storms of Stress”, tells a story of a woman named Nancy. Nancy’s glass of stress is full and overflowing. Wedged between the demands of single-parenting, a rebellious son, and managing an office, she has just about had it. When she heard that Martin was writing a book on stress and peace, she said, ‘Oh, I’m reading something right now about how to cope with stress. I hope I find it in time!’”
Most of us pressure cooker people would consider it a success just to cope with our stress. To cope is to struggle or contend on fairly even terms. In other words, to cope is to be satisfied with keeping your head above water, so to speak.
But, does God call us to live in peace or just to cope.
We’re living in a time with so much tension. Bad economy, violence, drive by shouting, potential layoffs, insufficient employment benefits, wars and rumors of wars. Stress seems to be all around us; in our homes, relationships, jobs, church, and even in our sleep. Sleep is supposed to be peaceful. But it seems our sleep is filled with the nightmares of daily stressful activities. When we do wake up we wish we never did or we’re just has tired waking as the night before.
Stress, anxiety, frustration, pain, and worry, just to cope isn’t enough. As a matter of fact we cope in all the wrong ways. We cope with alcohol, drugs, sex, eating, lying, fantasy, television, sleeping our lives away, feeling sorry for ourselves, spending money we don’t have, ignoring the realities of life, hanging out with the wrong people, taking prescription drug medication, moving to another state, or whatever we can find to cope with stress and worry.
There once lived a King who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them.
One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful towering mountains were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.
The other picture had mountains too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell, in which lightening played and thunder roared. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.
But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest. He declared the second artist the winner because his picture was the perfect peace.
The King explains that "peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace." - Author Unknown
Peace is not the absent of life’s realities. Peace is not coping. Peace is not ignoring problems and frustration.
Peace is God holding you together when everything around you is falling apart.
There are three (3) essential truths about God-giving peace that we would do ourselves good to hold onto during stressful times:
I. God Presents Peace To All Men – v. 1-22
The book of Judges picks up the story of an Israel at rest and takes us into the tormented centuries that followed. When the leaders who served with Joshua died, the commitment of the Israelites to the Lord relaxed. Rather than drive out the remaining Canaanites as the Lord commanded, the Israelites, set defeated foes to forced labor, or simply refused to attack enemy strongholds. Soon the Israelites were intermarrying with the people of the land, and many adopted pagan gods and customs.
The OT traces the spiritual and political deterioration of Israel. The bulk of the book tracks a pattern cycle that characterized the era of sin, servitude, supplication, salvation, silence, a period of rest during which the judge helps Israel remain faithful to the Lord. The tragedy is that this cycle is repeated over and over again, with each swing downward more serious than the other. Yet in this book is bright hope. Despite repeated failures, God remains willing to give His straying people repeated fresh chances, and to send them deliverer after deliverer.
Despite Israel’s failure God is willing to extend them a fresh new start. To understand the nature of Jehovah-Shalom we must understand that peace starts with a relationship with God.