“Pandemic” is Merrian-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2020. For those of us who are living through it, no surprise there! Even more interesting, though, is that the Oxford Dictionary did not assign this title to a single word. They stated on their website that, as their research started to look for a word, “it quickly became apparent that 2020 is not a year that could neatly be accommodated in one single ‘word of the year'”. Our present conundrum even has our language experts struggling!
To aggravate matters, the present health crisis has been accompanied by social unrest, political turmoil and the usual stressors of our fast paced lives. This has left behind a slew of struggling individuals faced with loss of health, dwindling finances, lost hope and craving normalcy…individuals desiring peace in the midst of a perfect storm.
During a pandemic, or at any time, where does our help come from? The Psalmist asked that general question in Psalm 121:1, as he looked out unto the hills. His answer was quick and definitive – “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (v2) The response was right in front of him – the Maker of the hills can help. The solution to our search for peace is the same as his response to the need for help – the Lord.
Seven hundred years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah declared: “For to us a child is born to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The Baby whose birth we will celebrate this month was prophesied and designated to be several things, including the Prince of Peace. He would bring peace to earth, even as the angels had told the shepherds when they announced his birth in Luke 2:14. The enmity between God and us was single handily taken care of by His Son, whose life, death and resurrection brought about this much needed reconciliation.
The lack of peace we might see in us, around us and in this world has an answer – the Lord. When I trust Him with my life and my thoughts are fixed on Him instead of the circumstances, He promises perfect and complete peace (Isaiah 26:3). He also challenges me to, so far as it depends on me, to live peaceably with all (Romans 12:18) and to strive for peace with everyone (Hebrews 12:14). When our vertical relationship is healed (peace with God), then inner peace is experienced and the horizontal relationships have the potential of being repaired (peace of God). The Lord gives to each one of His sons and daughters the responsibility to share that experiential peace with others, to be the “peacemakers” that Jesus talked about in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:9), helping fellow humans find peace with God and the peace of God.
The empirical truth is this – God gives His peace to those who seek Him. The 21 Christians beheaded by ISIS in 2015 on a Libyan beach had it. The Amish community who forgave their children’s killer in 2006 had it. Rachel Scott, one of the victims at the 1999 school tragedy in Columbine, had it. And we, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, can also have it. The Lord makes it available to all.
Recognizing our personal need and sinfulness, realizing that Jesus paid for it all by His sacrifice on the cross and receiving His forgiveness and grace in believing faith…that is the path for eternal peace. The spiritual disciplines of prayer and Bible reading, studying, meditating on and obeying God’s Word, together with having fellow believers that we can live our daily life with can all make practical earthly addendums to that heavenly peace. An eternal peace that I can also enjoy day by day…even in 2020!
If you’d like to know more about the peace talked about above, please use the comment section or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.