Prince of Peace
Prince of Peace
By James Shafto
In November and early December, I felt disheveled, stretched in all the wrong places. Today, I am healing and refreshed by intermittent peace and stillness. Little has changed in my life except the amount of time I spend with Jesus. My soul frayed because of personal, national, and communal concerns. It did not recover because I did not spend legitimate time with Jesus and internalize His truths. Thankfully, He does not leave us. His word beckons homeward and whispers peace in our ear.
The Lord Brings Peace to Our Person
Personally, my soul slumps because of pain and insecurity. I was not as successful in my job last year, I am struggling to grow in discipline and an untouched box of Christmas ornaments recalls my being divorced last summer. I am overwhelmed. I need the Lord. I sing,
“Lord you are more precious than silver;
Lord you are more costly than gold;
Lord you are more beautiful than diamonds…”
But I’d rather look at a screen right now.
I say “I wait for the Lord…My soul waits for you.”
Yah right. I am so distracted!
My latest distraction is attached to money and wanting to buy camping equipment. I became increasingly distant from the Lord. I spent my evenings researching gear online. Pride, apathy, lust, and anxiety crept in. My soul catheterized. Peace drained. In contrast, when I take walks with Jesus and talk to Him in the forest near my house, peace swells. The Lord granted Jesus peace in the garden. He gave me peace over the past year, and He offers peace in the midst of failure, in discipline, and even divorce. We need only spend time and talk to Him. May we be like Moses who “spoke with God as a man speaks with a friend.”
Pray with me:
Lord, we long for peace. Your word says, “Great peace have those who love your law. Nothing can make them stumble” (Psalm 119:185). We do not love your law, as we should. We repent of pride, laziness, frivolous meditations, and not talking to you. “We have backslid. You have seen our ways, but you will heal us” and declare to us “peace, peace to the far and to the near, and you will heal us” (Isaiah 57:19).
The Lord Brings Peace to the Nations
Peace seems impossible when I open the news on my phone. Politics are crazy. People are shot. War is threatened. In my home in Burkina Faso, Christians face deeper problems. ISIS, driven out of Iraq, is inciting ethnic tensions and executing Christians.
Ouedraogo walks out of church with a gun in his face.
“Will you deny Christ?”
“Come thou long expected Jesus, born to set your people free.
Lord, we are free, but we are afraid.
From our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in thee.”
May we remember, “The heart(s) of the [government workers] are in the hand of the Lord” (Proverbs 21:1), and He promises, “Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7). Sometimes I like to set a timer, read the words aloud, and sit in silence. “Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end.”
In the chaos of the mind, we forget the Lord’s control. He speaks in the silence. The echo of His words beckon peace to flourish.
Pray with me:
King Jesus, to us, and to the Burkinabe Church, would you be “strength and consolation, hope of all the earth.” Please come quickly. Take these weak governments on your shoulders. Be our prince of peace. Increase your government among us with justice and righteousness and peace. (Isaiah 9:7)
The Lord Brings Peace to “Us”
Communally, I mourn because friends are cutting, longing, mourning, begging, weeping, divorcing, panicking, struggling, losing, fighting, and giving up. Such pain. Is the Lord angry with us? Should we do more? Jesus said He would give “peace on those with whom he is pleased” (Luke 2:14), but we do not seem at peace.
Thankfully, the Lord’s pleasure presumes not on our obedience, nor is our pain (necessarily) indicative of His wrath. Jesus, “a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3) said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you…Let not your hearts be discouraged or afraid” (John 14:27). Absent Jesus, these troubles chafe our souls. In Jesus, they become glory, which He invites us to share. We fray when we struggle alone (Psalm 84:2, Psalm 119:81). We forget who we are. The Lord said of Jesus, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17). Jesus had done no ministry, yet the Lord was pleased with Him. Likewise, we have died with Jesus and raised with Him as children of God. We are the Lord’s Beloved. He is pleased with us. We have done nothing, and He gives us peace.
When we lack peace may we:
Take a walk and talk to Jesus.
Set a timer and listen: “You are my beloved.” “I am pleased with you.”
Remember: Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you.”
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