“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27)
The entire world is in turmoil at this moment over the Coronavirus pandemic. More than three million people have been infected worldwide and more than 200 thousand have died. In the United States almost one million people have been infected and more than fifty-five thousand have died. With widespread stay-at-home orders, our economy has gone from having one of the lowest unemployment rates in history just two months ago, to more than 26 million people filing for unemployment benefits in the week ending April 18. Anxiety and fear are running high due to both the disease and its economic consequences.
It might be well for us to reflect on Jesus speaking of peace to his disciples both before and after his death and resurrection. “Peace be with you,” were his first words to them following his resurrection. (Luke 24:36) Three days earlier they had seen him die a tortuous death. They were still hiding behind locked doors for fear of the Jewish leaders. Their hopes that he was the Messiah were dashed. The last thing they expected to see was Jesus in their midst. They were in need of his peace
Jesus’ word to us in the midst of the challenges we face today is also peace. “My peace I give to you,” he says. It is the ultimate gift! It is a peace we cannot get from the world. Let me share a story to illustrate, not about the current crisis, but a personal crisis that took place a number of years ago.
It started with a call from my urologist, “You have an aggressive and an advanced form of prostate cancer.” I was shocked and initially fearful. 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.
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 numerous acts of love from my wife, my children, and my brothers and sisters in Christ. He was with me as a good brother inveigled his way into the pre-op room and led the doctors and nurses circled around my bed in prayer for the surgery. He was with me through adult children who left their own families to spend time with me. He was with me through my wife who was a constant support and always present. He was with me in the quiet times as he whispered to my spirit.
Thirteen years later, my PSA, the marker for prostate cancer, has started to creep back up beyond the level of recurrence. We are monitoring while I wait for an NIH trial of a new type of scan that detects very small metastases that can then be treated with targeted radiation. Jesus’ peace is still present.
How do you seek peace? Have you asked Jesus to come into your midst?