John 16:33: Peace in our times

John_16-33

The Verse of the Day for December 30, 2013 comes from John 16:33:

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Most appropriately, the reference to the peace that comes from the Prince of Peace occurs on the day before the Universal Hour of Peace Day which takes place on December 31. In addition, every year since 1967 the Roman Catholic Church celebrates World Peace Day on the first of January.  In 1981 the United Nations General Assembly declared September 21 as International Peace Day. Despite these occasions, we live in the midst of war-torn times, where there is a notable absence of peace.

The events of September 11, 2001 catapulted the world into a state of anxiety and fearfulness, as the world has been engulfed in wars and rumors of wars. Though we seek “peace in our times” and cry out for “Peace, peace, but there is no peace.” In the midst these turbulent times of seemingly endless turmoil and strife, the world is ever seeking some semblance of lasting peace. The words of Sara Teasdale certainly ring true:

One white shining hour of peace

Count many a year of strife well lost.

The peace that Jesus speaks of goes beyond the usual definition which refers to “the normal non-warring condition of a nation, a group of nations or the world. . . a state of harmony among people or groups; cessation or freedom from strife or dissension.”

In contrast, the Biblical definition encompasses a state of untroubled, undisturbed well-being, expressed in the Hebrew expression shalom. According to Strong’s Concordance, shalom means “completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.” It is an inner reality, for the peace of God indicates being free from anxiety and care; it is not dependent upon outside conditions.

The peace of God comes from the God of peace, and it is only possible to obtain it through the Prince of Peace. John 14:27 declares this truth:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

In his will is our peace

As my thoughts turned toward the peace that the Lord gives, I recall having composed this poem:

Peace

In His will is our peace.

Dante Alighieri        

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, I pray.

From my life may there stream heavenly melodies.

As consummate virtuoso compose and play

Upon my soul, inspire glorious harmonies.

In such measured moments of sweetest quietude

Arrange serenades of praise. Let grace notes resound,

As my life crescendos in songs of gratitude,

From heart to heart, where your grace and mercy abound.

Orchestrate aubades, nocturnes, songs at eventide;

Complete cantatas of peace within me, align

My desires and your pleasure. Here we abide,

Saxophone and soloist, communing by design.

Knowing my purpose, I remain quiet and still,

Composed in perfect peace, the center of His will.

The essence of the intent of the poem is also expressed in the song “Instruments of Peace” recorded in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Verse of the Day reminds us that the peace that Jesus Christ gives is a priceless commodity in our times.

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