Do you remember the “olden days” when televised beauty pageants like Miss America and Miss Universe were a big deal, eagerly anticipated from one year to the next? Lovely young contestants would smile into the camera and declare that if they won the title, they would be to promote vegetables in a blender? You know – whirled peas?
Okay, what they actually said was “world peace.” But that idyllic global condition remains as elusive today as it was back then. Anger, hostility and animosity seem as pervasive as ever. The only things “united” about the USA these days are contiguous geographic borders.
We’re divided politically, ideologically, philosophically, and just about every other possible way. We can’t even have civil conversations about the weather anymore.
Around the globe, dreams of peace are just that – dreams. Meanwhile we have nightmares about the economy, major health issues, social strife, what’s going on with nature, and the threat of war is ever-present. Where in the world can we find this ideal called world peace?
It might sound pessimistic, but the chances of our seeing true, lasting global peace are about as likely as a grasshopper flying to the moon. Human conflict is as old as recorded history. In Genesis 4:1-16, we read the tragic tale of Cain and Abel, first sons of Adam and Eve. In an act of jealousy and anger, the elder Cain killed his younger brother Abel, then lied to God in a foolish attempt to conceal his heinous crime. War and violent conflict, whether between individuals or nations, has continued ever since.
Does that mean peace is impossible, that it’s a hopeless pursuit? In one respect, the answer is probably yes. Sorry to disappoint the Pollyannas among us, but our world is riddled by something the Bible calls sin. As a result, there will always be a desire by many to control, coerce and conquer. I’ve cited the passage before, but Romans 3:10-18 sums it up well:
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God…. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pursue peace, to employ every possible means to achieve reconciliation among peoples. But the key phrase above, I believe, is “no fear of God before their eyes.” Because He is the only real peacemaker and when we fail to look to Him, peace remains far beyond our grasp.
However, we are offered – even promised – peace, even if it’s not on a global scale. I love the promise from Isaiah 26:3, “You [the Lord] will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.” Through our relationship with God, we can experience inner peace even when everything around us, both near and far, is plunging into chaos.
Speaking to His closest followers, Jesus offered this assurance as He anticipated His death on the cross to atone for the sins of mankind: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
Writing to encourage followers of Christ in ancient Rome, the apostle Paul reminded them of where they needed to direct their thoughts, despite opposition and many trials to test their faith. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
Over the past two years we’ve been bombarded with reasons to fear, foremost being the COVID-19 pandemic, creating unprecedented levels of anxiety. “What will happen if I get the virus? Will I die?” many have wondered, panic resonating in their voices. How can we experience enduring peace when it seems as if the specter of death is chasing after us?
Jesus offered assurances for circumstances like this. Knowing His disciples would confront the pain of His absence after being with Him night and day for three years, He told them, “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” (John 16:33).
Whether in good times or bad, in excellent health or nearing the moment of death, God’s peace is available to each one of us. All we need to do is ask. Then we can claim the blessing He gave thousands of years ago to His chosen people of Israel: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you his peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.