This is my newest grandson, Noah. I already have scads of pictures of him even though he just turned two months old, but this one is my favourite.
For a time I couldn’t figure out why it rose to the top, but after one gruelling day of trying to manage life in the midst of a pandemic it suddenly hit me. It’s the perfect picture of peace.
At a time when we are all inundated with directives for hand-washing, social distancing, and political leaders delivering statistics of impending doom, it’s hard not to succumb to feelings of fear and anxiety.
In our present cycle of news updates there is one element from the constant barrage of grim reporting that is sorely missing, regardless of what part or segment of the world you tune into.
It’s the one ingredient I believe we need now more than ever. It’s that elusive feeling of peace that is so prominent in the picture of my grandson. Asleep, content, warm, safe, and utterly at peace with no acknowledgment of the turmoil the world around him is presently experiencing.
Granted, there will be those who will see advocating for peace at a time like this as nothing more than burying our heads in the sand. But nothing could be further from the truth.
At the very heart of peace lies the conviction that we are trusting in someone or something beyond the present crisis. Something that will exist and persist long after the crisis has abated.
As a pastor, this recent crisis has been a call for people to remember where their ultimate trust should lie. I’ve quoted, echoed, read, proclaimed, and pronounced the oft repeated adage of having ‘faith over fear’.
Some two thousand years ago, from the dark and cruel confines of a Roman prison, the man we know as the apostle Paul, wrote these words to the church In Philippi, Greece.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)
Such words barely make sense when we consider the circumstances of its author. Cold, alone, dark, and damp, his surroundings would have pointed to anything other than peace.
Yet, what he writes has been etched on the hearts of believers for over two millennia. Rather than drown ourselves in constant worry, why not pray and give it all to God. Oh, and don’t forget, thank him for what he’s done already because God has been there before. What is happening now is not new or foreign to him.
But its the results Paul states that truly baffle me. When we pray, thank God, and release it all to him, we experience – peace. And to add to the incredulity of it all it will be a peace we cannot fully understand or even comprehend.
Why? Because from the outside, from the view of the physical realm, the last conceivable outcome of the storm that is swirling around you is anything other than peaceful.
Paul seems to anticipate the question we would all ask right away. Where will I know this peace? In our hearts and our minds he writes. In other words, every feeling of anxiety and fear (heart), and every doubt and worry (mind), will be guarded and we will experience a peace that is unexplainable, except to say that we know it could only have come from God.
For Paul, and for every believer since, the prospect of peace has always been a byproduct of faith in Christ, a divine enablement, and not the result of life’s circumstances.
Which brings me back to my newest grandson. Has peace ever looked so beautiful?