God’s nature is so exquisite.
He has invited me, as He has you, to explore facets of who He is. It’s like I’m looking at all the faces on an intricately cut diamond, turning it over in my palm as I see each detail of it shine and sparkle in new and brilliant ways.
One shining fragment He’s taught me a bit about lately is His nature of peace.
He is peace. It’s who He is.
Many will question God’s peace. For how could He claim to be peaceful and powerful, yet in His power He doesn’t stop all the destructive mayhem that rages in this world we live in?
Let me be clear that I am not answering on behalf of the Lord in this post. I am not trying to explain why the level of evil we see on the news and in our very lives happens. I simply want to say that God is peace.
But maybe the part we don’t like to accept is that God might care slightly more about the amount of peace in our hearts than the peace of our environments.
He might care about changing us more than changing what we’re going through.
To speak in practical terms, I don’t know of better people to testify to this internal peace than those who are being persecuted around the world.
“Persecuted Christians, no matter what country they are from, do not ask us to pray that persecution would end, but rather ask us to pray that they stand strong through the persecution. They do not wish to be delivered from the persecution, but rather ask us to pray that they would be able to overcome the trials that they are facing in a way that is honoring to God” (Open Doors).
What an example to be motivated by. Their primary prayer is not for their world to change, though this would still be noble itself. Their chief aim is to have changed hearts. To become stout, strong, and steadfast through the ugliest realities.
They seek to stand up to chaos with strength of the soul. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
To paint this picture a little more clearly, 255 Christians are killed each month for their faith, as reported by Open Doors (a ministry that acts on behalf of the persecuted church). In places like North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, and Afghanistan, Christians do not have access to free and peaceful lives – at least not externally.
But God advocates for peace to live – no, not just live – but to rule in the hearts of His people. “Let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts” (Colossians 3:15).
Those who follow Jesus have access to a deeper peace than the fleeting, temporary glimpses the world might offer through its money, belongings, status, or whatever other temptations promise satisfaction for our souls. How do we have this peace? It really doesn’t feel peaceful all the time; I get that. But can we have peace even if it seems to be be missing from what we feel all the time?
Horatio G. Spafford.
I’m sure you’ve heard of him, but this is the man who sent his wife and four daughters aboard the Ville du Havre enroute from America to Europe, a ship that Mr. Hafford had planned to be on himself, until last minute work demands begged him to stay in America for a few extra days.
In a terrible collision with the Scottish Lochearn, Horatio Spafford lost his four daughters that day. His wife managed to escape with her life, and she sent dreadful word to her husband that she was the only survivor of their family.
On the journey to reunite with his beloved, the ship that carried Mr. Spafford passed over the dark waters where his daughters had drowned. And it is said that this is the spot where Spafford wrote “it is well with my soul.”
How is this humanly possible?
Well, it’s not.
With God, it is possible.
“And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, shall keep your hearts, your minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
May we determinedly pursue peace as the historical examples like Mr. Spafford, and the present heroes of the persecuted church do.
God tells us to “turn away from evil, and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it” (Psalm 34:14).
He is passionate about this peace residing in our hearts. The disarray and the destruction may continue to stampede around you; He does not promise to change this. But He offers to change you. Which is more important?
Take care of your heart. Place peace as your priority. God can make it well with your soul.
*Hawn, Michael. History of Hymns: “It Is Well with My Soul”. The United Methodist Church. Taken from https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-it-is-well-with-my-soul