The world seeks peace among nations. Individuals seek peace in their lives, but peace seems to elude the world, and based on the number of prescriptions written for antidepressants each year, peace seems to elude many individuals as well.
Jesus’ first words to the disciples following his resurrection were, “Peace be with you.” (Luke 24:35; John 20:19) Three days earlier the disciples had seen him die a tortuous death. Their hopes and dreams that Jesus was the Messiah they were expecting were dashed. Since Jesus’ arrest, they feared for their own lives and hid behind locked doors. Their world had been turned upside down. The last thing they expected to see was a resurrected Jesus in their midst. So, Jesus’ first word to them was “peace.”
Jesus’ first word to us is also peace in the midst of the challenges and difficulties we face in our day to day lives. “My peace I give to you,” he says in John 15:27 – the peace of God – the ultimate gift! Jesus says it is a peace the world cannot give.
What does this peace look like? A few years ago I heard those dreaded words, “You have an advanced and aggressive form of prostate cancer.” I was devastated. Yet within hours I began to experience the peace of Jesus. I was prompted to let friends and family know and ask for their prayers. As I started to receive the assurance of their prayers and concern, I began to experience God’s love and peace. Their prayers and love sustained me through my surgery and follow-up therapy that lasted three and a half years. Heartfelt prayers and good medical practice are a powerful combination for healing. See Sirach 38:1-2, 6, 12. It has been over seven years now, and I am at peace, a peace that the doctors and the world cannot give.
Like the disciples, I needed to realize that Jesus was in my midst in order to receive his peace. He was with me in the actions of my wife, my children, and my brothers and sisters in Christ through numerous acts of love. He was with me as a good brother led the doctors and nurses circled round my pre-op bed in prayer for the surgery. He was with me through children who left their families to spend time with me. He was with me through my wife who was a constant support, always present. He was with me in my quiet times as he whispered to my spirit.
Jesus says, “I have told you these things so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”