Peace the world cannot give
From Jesus' Last Discourse to his disciples (John 14:27-31):
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return. If you loved me you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe. I shall not talk with you any longer, because the prince of this world is on his way. He has no power over me, but the world must be brought to know that I love the Father and that I am doing exactly what the Father told me.’
When I think of peace, I am reminded of the poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost. It is about a moment of peace experienced in passing while when stopping for a moment to watch a woods fill up with snow. It ends with this famous stanza:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
That fleeting moment of peace carved out of a world crammed full of “shoulds”. This is how the world gives peace.
The peace that Jesus gives is different. He tells his disciples of it just before he is about to dragged from their presence and violently executed. “Peace” he gives them, when they will realize that he was indeed “doing exactly what the Father told” him.
This deep peace is not a slave to what happens—it can place what happens within a context of what will be brought about through it. It deals with the present knowing that the there is more going on than meets the eye—the world is turning, and God is directing this transformation. So it replaces the crushing tyranny of what is with the empowering glimmer of what is to be.
This is a peace that lasts, that endures, that can risk, that can look into the face of injustice and seemingly overwhelming odds to overcome and have the courage to take the action required to change the world. It is the peace that allows lovers to give themselves to one another in marriage or religious vows for the rest of their lives, despite the odds. It is the peace that Martin Luther King Jr. was referring to when he told of us his dream of that peaceful valley where all people live together in peace—that peaceful valley that he may never get to, but that he glimpsed on the mountain.
Today—right now—reconnect with that glimmer that set you on the path of following Jesus, of believing in his way. Remember why it is that this matters and rediscover what it is that God needs you to do in this moment. Do this, and you will find that lasting peace that the world cannot give.