In a world torn by conflicts, disease, and war, people seek peace. Even in our homes, peace at times 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 personal peace is obeying God’s commands. But what about peace…”likea river”? To fully appreciate 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 water collects 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 a precipice, watching her mind lose 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.
How could I feel peaceful when my world spun upside down? Galatians 5:22, states 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.
When 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 personal 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 trusts in you.”
What are you doing to maintain peace during difficult times?