John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
I could read and meditate on the Upper Room Discourse all day, and really should do so more often than I do. God gives us so much through these words, and just as it says here, that’s not the way the world does. The world’s gifts are by definition temporal and temporary, but what God gives is eternal. The devil hates that and does all he can to interfere, but he can succeed only if we allow him to. I don’t think it’s an accident that Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Acting through others, the devil can affect our circumstances, but he can’t do anything to us that really matters unless we allow him to do so. Recently it was “big news” that an entertainer was in danger from a drug overdose. God didn’t do that to her, but she allowed the devil to do it by her choices, not just with the particular overdose (any dose of heroin is too much!) but from all the choices that led up to that. As James pointed out, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17) That’s exactly what Jesus is talking about here. The peace that He gives indeed is beyond human understanding, (Philippians 4:7) and doesn’t “change like shifting shadows.” Japanese has a distinction in kinds of peace that I think is helpful in understanding what Jesus is saying here. He isn’t talking about a simple lack of conflict. He cautioned us about “wars and rumors of wars,” (Matthew 24:6) and said that He had come to bring “not peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) The Japanese makes it clear that here He is talking about inner peace, that can’t be achieved by treaties or any other human means. We use Yoga and various other things to try to work it up, but what we need to do is choose to surrender and receive. When we do that, we truly have peace and not fear, regardless of our circumstances.
I’ve had my own struggles with/for peace, so I understand the paradoxical nature of what I’m talking about. God’s peace is a gift, just like faith is a gift, but I have to choose to receive it. As long as I am seeking it from other sources, it won’t come to me. Recently a dear friend lost his wife to cancer, but it was in several ways a relief, because she had suffered from a debilitation neurological disease for several years prior to that, and they both had full assurance of heaven. That brought up various scenarios in my own mind, since Parkinson’s Disease is among my wife’s considerable list of ailments. If I dwell on such things I will be refusing the peace that Jesus offers and provides. As a pastor I am dealing constantly with people who want inner peace but can’t seem to lay hold of it. I am to speak the truth in love to them, just as Jesus did here, and demonstrate through my own life that such peace is possible and available, so that the devil’s lies may be overcome.
Father, thank You for Your peace. Help me indeed walk in it at all times, not allowing the devil any room, so that Your will may be done in and through me for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!