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“Could you help me find peace in this?”

My friend asked the following question in response to the overwhelming tragedies our nation and globe are navigating, “Could you help me find peace in this?”

Peace can be defined as completeness, soundness, wholeness, contentment, and the prevailing sense of well-being-enabling, an inner life marked by quiet instead of noisy conflict. So I had to ask myself before I answered, “Is this true of me right now?”

As a follower of Jesus, I know peace is my beginning and end. What began in a garden was an awareness of shalom (peace), the wholeness of humanity with each other, and creation.

Understanding this peace was a gift of the knowing presence of the immanent and transcendent God—a God with us, for us, and who loves us. The end of the story also tells us that a renewed garden (heaven and earth) will be the sustaining environment of peace. And again, a God with us, for us, and who loves us.

It is my beginning and end. It is my history remembered and my future hope.

But what of the liminal (in-between) space in which I live?

It is hard to find peace when surrounded by war, violence, pandemics, injustice, and the deep grief of unexpected loss. It is hard to find answers and peace while wrestling with all the theodicies in times like these. Living with the unknowing mysteries of the senseless pain we experience and inflict on one another is hard.

Yet still, I live in the in-between of a peaceful beginning and end, with a choice of where I will live, listen from, and respond because of that truth.

So, how do I find peace?

For me, it may be too simple for some or too outrageous for others. But, I find peace in the one I put all my trust in, Jesus.

For a moment, Jesus lived in the in-between and showed us what peace looks like amid a world that navigates loss, violence, war, and grief. He shows us the cost of promoting peace through words and lived-out experiences. He shows us peace is not removing ourselves but engaging head-on and heart-first into the turmoil and chaos. Not to say that formative reflection of being still is not part of the process in moments like these. To be still is not to be removed but to prepare our engagement thoughtfully. Peace is the weeping, hugging compassion around a family with one less person at the table and one less teacher at the chalkboard.

Peace also includes protesting the continual systems that lead to senseless violence. And those systems are not just one issue but several; therefore, the need for peace ambassadors to engage is more critical than ever. We can do this better together, can’t we? My peace must be thoughtful in both places, in the formation of my heart and life practice. 

The peace I seek in moments like this is not, so I get over it, make sense of it, and ignore it until the next news cycle. Instead, it is a peace that seeks to activate a more profound conviction of awareness of the issues, presence with God and the grieving, and activity towards correcting the injustice presented.

So, my answer to my friend’s question was to wrestle with the pain until it provided a call to heal, help and bring hope. Let the beginning and end of the story of Jesus and your bible act not as bookends but as two converging ends pressing the best into and out of us.

In some of the final words of Jesus, we read that He gave His disciples His peace as a gift to know they were not alone amid persecution (suffering). He stated that we would have courage in Him as He has conquered the world (John 16:33).

May His courageous peace press into you as you navigate this time so that you and those around you (locally, nationally, and globally) may know peace, not in our circumstances but in the person, Jesus, who loves them.  

I am courageously pursuing the pressing of His peace with you as we live bravely in the in-between.

You are loved.

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