It’s nearly impossible to go about life for a day without noticing the effects of the coronavirus. At a time when virtually the whole world is in the same boat and adjusting everyday tasks in the light of this pandemic, it might feel like nothing is the same anymore. Some people are gripped by fear. During this unprecedented crisis, we need peace.
The Prince of Peace is just one of 250 names given to the Lord Jesus in the New Testament. When He appeared for the first time on this earth in a manger in Bethlehem, the angels announced his arrival with these words, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Our English word “peace” originates from an old French word which means to be reconciled, or to have an agreement with, or to have the absence of hostility. But the Hebrew word “shalom” has a much richer meaning. The word “shalom” is found 355 times in the Old Testament, and its basic meaning is to be whole, or safe, or sound. A review of shalom in the Old Testament reveals it never refers to inner psychological or emotional peace. Shalom is the condition of everything being set right. It’s about the total well-being of the person and the community. It’s one of the deepest longings of the human heart.
Jesus is the one who satisfies the deepest longings of our hearts for peace. But if we are honest, we can easily become discouraged when we see so little peace in our world and in our hearts.
The leaders of our country long for international and national peace. Jesus cares more about individual and inner peace. Yes, the world needs to come to peace. Do you know that if peace comes to our hearts, soon it comes to our culture? So, how are you able to have peace in your heart? The Bible says you and I can have peace with God. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Peace with God was made possible to us when Jesus Christ came down from heaven and went to the cross as the God man, hung there between heaven and earth, and paid the price for our sin. Jesus paid the price for every sin. He took it all away. When we put our trust in Him, we are forgiven, and our sin is erased. Then, we can have a relationship with God. Then, we can say, “Therefore, being justified by faith, I have peace with God.”
In Philippians 4:6-7 Paul says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
The peace of God acts, according to Paul, as a sentinel or a soldier who walks back and forth in front of the door of your heart to provide security. The picture here is our hearts and our minds are always under assault — guilt, worries, threats, confusions and uncertainties. They all threaten our peace. Paul says God wants to guard our hearts and minds, and he guards our hearts with His peace when we commit ourselves to Christ.
I want to encourage you to cultivate that peace in your life. You will find the peace of God in four places: the Spirit of God, the Son of God, the Word of God, and in prayer. There is peace from the Spirit of God. Did you know that when Jesus was teaching his disciples and telling them that he was going to back to heaven, he told them that it was a good thing? He said, when He returned to heaven, He was going to send the Holy Spirit down to take his place. The Holy Spirit comes to live within the heart of every single person who puts their trust in Christ. The Bible says that peace is the inevitable result of the Holy Spirit controlling your life.
Did you know that the Bible is the key to your peace? When you don’t know what to do, try to find a way to spend more time in the Scripture for your own help and encouragement. The word “careful” in Philippians 4 literally means anxious. “Be ‘anxious’ for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
So, in other words, we must be anxious for nothing, prayerful for everything, and thankful for anything. That’s the kind of peace that never fails to produce that quiet center in your heart. And that’s the peace God wants you and me to have. That’s His gift to us.
John David Shanks is pastor of Beulah Baptist Church in Kingsport.