“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” –John 14:27
What does it mean to have peace, or to live in times of peace? There are many entries in the dictionary to define peace. Tranquility, quiet, freedom from unrest, lack of war, a state of security, and the list goes on.
My family is currently preparing to move to South Sudan to serve the people of the town of Torit. I am faced with the reality that the people of South Sudan have not had much opportunity to experience peace. The country has been in war of one type or another since 1950. While there have been short periods of “quiet”, those are rare. And currently, South Sudan is deeply embroiled in a civil war. How can believers have peace when our lives are in turmoil?
It seems too trite to simply say, “The peace of Christ should be enough.” Yet, it is true. If we calm our hearts and listen to His words, we can find that peace and live victoriously in it. Jesus clearly states in verse 27 that our hearts should not be troubled, and we should not be afraid.
So how can we really do that? How can we not be afraid when the world around us is crumbling? Maybe your marriage is on the rocks, your practice is struggling, or perhaps you have a loved one whose health is declining. Is it possible to have peace, especially in situations that are completely out of our control?
Now, I do not think this is necessarily a simple task. Like many spiritual disciplines, seeking the peace of the Lord takes practice. We will not always succeed, but we need to continue to seek His peace. For myself, I found comfort in the verses that came right before 14:27.
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” –John 14:25-26
God has given us the Holy Spirit, who certainly enables us to have peace. Our advocate, the Holy Spirit is there to remind us of what Jesus has taught or said. Have you been in a situation where you weren’t sure what to think or do, and all of the sudden a verse from scripture pops into your mind with the answer? That has happened to me numerous times, and I like to give thanks to the Holy Spirit at those times for reminding me.
You may be familiar with the hymn “It is well, with my soul”, written by Horatio Spafford. Once I learned the story behind the hymn, it came to mean even more to me. Horatio’s wife Anna and their four children were on a ship to Europe from America. The ship tragically collided with another boat, and all four children perished. Anna survived and telegrammed Horatio who boarded a ship to go and join her. When he was in the area where the accident occurred, the captain notified him where his children died. It was during this boat journey that Horatio wrote the words:
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well; it is well with my soul.
Surely, in tragic times, it is challenging to feel at peace. Yet we need to draw on the grace and love of the Holy Spirit. We can focus on the truth of scripture, that teaches us about our Heavenly Father who lavishes love upon us, and yes, in the midst of hard times, we can allow His Holy Spirit to comfort us.
As I watch my South Sudanese brothers and sisters, I learn about living in peace despite hardships. When there is war around them, they pray. When there is hunger, they pray. When they lose loved ones, they grieve and pray. Let us remember to cling to our Lord and PRAY when we are lacking peace.
So, the next time you are finding yourself anxious, worried, or concerned, call on Jesus, the Prince of
Peace, and the Holy Spirit, our advocate. Remember that Jesus does not give to us like the world does- He gives to us freely and for eternity. He gave up His life for us, so that peace between God and us was restored. His blood paid the price for our sin, His resurrection assures us that we will have eternal life with our Father in Heaven. God’s love is unconditional. The only requirement to receive His love, grace, and peace? Receive the free gift of Christ.
Dr. Gina Wintermantel serves as our CVM Affiliate (international) veterinarians who have a desire to share the love of Christ through veterinary medicine. She graduated from the University of Illinois, and has been a small animal practitioner in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The Wintermantel family (husband Steve, and children Hazel, Abraham, Josiah and Cyrus) is currently raising support through CVM to serve long-term in South Sudan.