Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27 NKJV)
Hundreds of years before the Baby whose arrival we celebrate at Christmas time, Isaiah declared about Him:
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NKJV)
There’s much to be said about the deep meaning contained in these prophetic words. But today I want to focus on the name, “Prince of Peace.” It sounds so nice… and in the context of the Nativity, where we imagine a “Silent Night” of tranquility as a newborn baby sleeps in a manger, it’s easy to attach the words “Prince of Peace” to a meek, humble and lowly figure who walked the earth 2,000 years ago.
But that’s where I believe we miss the point. Yes… Jesus was meek and humble and certainly lowered Himself to interact with mankind. But we miss the deeper, more powerful and even violent nature of the Prince of Peace.
You see, through the economic turmoil of the last few years, if there’s one area that has been shaken in the lives of believers… and shaken hard, it’s in this area of peace. You may have lost a business, lost a job, lost a home, maybe your marriage… or perhaps you’ve danced dangerously close to the brink of one or more of these. No one may know the level of anxiety, distress or perhaps even despair you may have felt. You may even yet be feeling it right now.
I had lunch a year or so ago with a friend and client who had been on a visit to Israel. He wasn’t going to see the “Holy Land,” per se. Rather, as a Jewish physician, he was visiting not as a tourist but as someone who has a deep connection to the inhabitants of Israel. He told me about his visit to a border town called S’derot. This city is situated 1 kilometer from Gaza and has been constantly bombarded by rocket fire for years. He told me something that really shocked me: virtually every child living in S’derot suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I’m no expert on the topic of PTSD, although my father and other veterans have told me plenty about it. One thing I know to be true — it affects every part of your life. Your brain is re-wired and your life is spent trying to protect yourself from whatever might come next. You quite literally live waiting for another bomb to go off.
If you’ve experienced or come close to experiencing a life-altering event in the last few years… or even if your life has merely been disrupted by the fast-paced level of change in our society, then you may know something about living under extreme stress. Perhaps you’re living the way those Israeli children live: shell-shocked and waiting for the next bomb to go off in your life.
I certainly don’t mean to trivialize the experience of people who live in a real war zone, but I believe that many of us who have faced a disruption in our livelihoods or have been on the brink (or over the brink) of disaster find ourselves in desperate need of what Jesus told His disciples He was leaving with them: peace.
It was clear He was leaving them with a tangible gift. It wasn’t just a nice fuzzy feeling as they sang “Silent Night.” Rather… something they could use to overwhelm the difficult circumstances He was telling them were on the way. I urge you to take some time to read John 14-16 and see the entire context. Jesus was telling the disciples that their lives were going to be in jeopardy. Not only was He leaving, but after perpetrating a brutal execution on Jesus Himself, the rulers of the synagogues were going to be coming after them. And it began to take place only a few weeks later (in the book of Acts).
Jesus used the words, “Let not your hearts be troubled,” repeatedly. He made it clear that they were not to permit their real, tangible internal peace to be rocked regardless of what was coming.
What kind of real peace can overwhelm circumstances that would shake anyone to the core? What could rise up inside a person and cause them to be able to keep their heart from being troubled when not just livelihood or lifestyle, but actual life and limb are being threatened?
That, my friend, is what Jesus gave to us.Tags: Anxiety, Business, Government on His Shoulders, Kingdom of God, Stress