Finding Peace in a Time of Strife
Many of the symptoms that bring people to the Meier Clinics may be described as a lack of peace: interiorly, relationally, and globally. We at the Clinics have heard many tragic stories of fearful, troubled, broken, and often fragmented hearts and minds. People are impacted by all forms of prejudice and hatred. People are trying to rebuild their lives after adverse childhood experiences have caused and are causing a lifetime of difficulties in everyday living. On top of this, 2020 has brought a new set of circumstances to add to the already heavy life burdens that people have been carrying throughout their lives. We all know the list of current issues: political strife and national division; fear of getting or spreading COVID to loved ones; a growing toll of death; violence in our homes, cities, and country; racial and sexual prejudice and violence; economic insecurity; the list goes on. Raised voices and visions assail us daily. Where then do we go to find peace?
When our minds are stressed, anxious, or raging; when chaos and catastrophe press in on us, Jesus tells us: “Peace I leave you, my peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). Jesus goes right to the heart of the matter: the matter of the heart. When we are troubled within and the world is in turmoil, peace begins with Jesus’ resurrection life that faith brings into our hearts and minds. This is not an escape from the troubles of the world, but rather an answer that we bring to those troubles. As a Christian mental health clinic, we are doing our part to co-operate with Jesus’ gift of peace to the human heart and to the world by helping individuals, families and communities resolve conflicts and restore peace in their own lives through Jesus’ peace ministered through Christian mental health principles. Once having experienced the peace of Christ in their hearts, they become agents of peace and healing in the world. One healed heart at peace with God, with itself, and with others can be a powerful vehicle to bring about the peace of God’s kingdom here on earth. It is the transcendent power of Jesus’ Resurrected and Ascended Presence that provides the new, creative force to raise a fallen world into the realm of peace.
To find peace, we must know where to look. As believers, we look to the Word of God for the definitive understanding of what peace is and how to find it. The source of peace is the Presence of God. He is our Peace, “making the two one through the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:20). Peace is at the foundation, the core, the bedrock of reality, and it is granted to us by our participation in the Divine Life. (2 Peter 1:4) Peace then is perceptible within our hearts, within our own being, in our reconciliation with God (2 Corinthians 5:19) who continually is giving us His life and the peace that goes with it.
In the Hebrew Bible the greeting “Peace” or “Shalom” is a blessing, a wish, and a will for wholeness: that everything that is meant to be in all of your relationships and in all of your life and health might be there by the grace of God. When Jesus appeared to His apostles after the Resurrection His first word was, “Shalom!” He won the victory over all that could destroy peace in the human heart and peace on earth, so He won the right to declare peace: “Shalom!”
So, peace exists as the cornerstone of God’s creation, of human nature, and of our lives together in Christ. We cannot make peace happen ourselves, by our own efforts: we can only cooperate with the peace that God readily gives us. What makes for peace is given to our hearts and our spirits when we are in Christ.
Peacemaking is a work of God’s transcendent power, reconciling the world to Himself in Christ. It is an activity of God at work in us to which we agree. It is not something that we can power through or manhandle. Peace, true and lasting peace, is a gift from God and comes to us freely, yet it costs us everything we hold on to so tightly and fight for so vehemently that opposes peace.
Making peace is by no means passive. It is a condition of active receptivity: like a pass receiver who cannot make the ball land in his hands: he can only run his pattern, out-maneuver his opponent, and trust that the ball will land where it’s supposed to when he stays on the pattern given him. It is a highly active receptivity.
What is our playbook to position ourselves to receive the peace that God is passing to us? There is one play: living by faith; focusing on the life of Christ in us and around us. Only a peace based on and coming from His Presence, power and righteousness will last. This is a peace that loves its enemies by winning them over to the divine life that brings peace into their lives as well and carries us all through death to eternal peace. There is no other way.
Here are a few basic steps and practices that can help us to position ourselves to receive “the peace that passes all understanding.:
- Trust in Divine Providence and abandon yourself to God’s ever-present loving, Fatherly care. “Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” Matthew 6:33
- Practice a daily review of life, asking God where we walked towards or away from the peace of His Presence throughout the day.
- Do a daily spiritual reading of the Scriptures
- Read a short passage of the Bible slowly, not to get through it, but to allow it to get through to you.
- Pray: Have a loving conversation with God about the passage, with gratitude and reverence
- Meditate deeply on the passage, thinking actively about the application, perhaps imagining oneself in the Bible scene as one of the characters in the story, or talking to the human author of the text.
- Contemplate by receptively abiding in God’s Presence, receiving whatever gift he might be offering
- Finally, put into action the plan for life that is the fruit of this time in the Word.
- Speaking out loud the secrets of the heart to one trustworthy human being makes us both more human. (James 5:16) A friend, a spouse, a therapist, a confessor or spiritual director, an accountability partner: it is imperative in the spiritual life to be radically open with another person.
- Join the sufferings of life to the sufferings of Christ (Colossians 1:24) “in my flesh, I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body.”
- C. S. Lewis: “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists on being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
- We suffer well when even in our pain, we trust in God’s Providential care. Romans 8: “God works all things together for the good for those who love Him.”
- Bear with patience the faults of those around us, and in ourselves.
- Become a peacemaker in the world by seeking and pursuing peace of heart.
- “Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God”
- Maintain peace of heart: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you.” (Is. 26:3).
- “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:8