By Matt Williams
John 16:33: I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.
Where does true peace come from?
I am reminded of the story of Horatio Spafford, who penned the famous hymn “It Is Well With My Soul”. As the story is told, Spafford was a successful lawyer in Chicago in the late 1800s. In 1871 he lost his son (age 2), and in the same year the “Great Chicago Fire” claimed many of his financial investments. Two years later in 1873, as the rebuilding of Chicago continued, he and his family had planned to take a vacation to Europe. Detained by business, he sent his family ahead of him. The ocean liner upon which they traveled was rammed by another British ship and sank, taking the lives of his remaining four daughters. His wife managed to survive. Horatio took a ship to meet his grieving wife, and as he took this voyage, passing the very spot where his daughters had died, he was inspired to write these words…
“When peace like a river attendenth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul
Thou Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul”
True Peace, like true Love, is something far deeper and more profound than what Hollywood often portrays. We think we can find it in our emotions, or manufacture it by our circumstances, but when the loss of a loved one comes, when the diagnosis arrives at our doorstep, when the dream fails, when a friend betrays our trust, or when the many other avenues of darkness encroach on our broken world, we are left feeling hollow.
True peace can only come from something deeper and stronger than both our emotions and circumstances. It must come from something external to our system, something that lasts beyond this world, something that is eternally good, eternally loving, and of ultimate worth. I have searched for peace in my life from all aspects of the American dream… running accolades, academic success, material gain, relationships, and career, and all have failed time and time again.
Peace comes when we trust in the promise of God. His promise is simple: He loves us to the point of His own death, and He is able to redeem all things…our sin…our broken circumstances…our pain…all of it, into His ultimate story of resurrection and Life. This promise was made clear through the suffering, death, and glorious resurrection of His son Jesus Christ. As when learn to trust Him, there is a peace that “transcends all understanding”.
I am sure there will be many times this Holiday season when we do not “feel” like singing Christmas carols, or saying “Peace on Earth” with a warm smile. And yet, if we cling to His promise, if we cling to a relationship with Christ, then even when we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death”, we shall fear no evil, for He is walking with us, and ultimately leading us to green pastures. We will be able to stand with Horatio Spafford and truly say, “It is Well with my Soul”.
I pray deeply in my heart this Christmas season that you experience this peace and love no matter what your circumstances are. I pray that we all continue to cling to the hope and peace that come from Christ---With Much Love----Matt
Further Reading: Romans 5: 1-11