Peace is really all that most of us want. But what is peace? Is it getting what we want? Is it freedom from anxiety? Is it the certainty that everything will work out eventually? Is it knowing that we are right where we are supposed to be, doing what we are supposed to be doing?
Getting that job, the nice house, the achievement award—those all produced only temporary peace for me. How about you? Soon the job was stressful, the house needed repair, and the award got dusty. There was always something more that I wanted. I just wasn't sure what it was.
Phil 4:6: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ."
When my teenager, Chris, was enduring lengthy cancer treatments I felt a certain sense of peace just being in the hospital playroom, playing bumper pool with him. (He used to call me "Mrs. Bumperdoodles".) In that situation my sense of peace came from knowing that I was meant to be Chris's mom, and while I didn't know why he had to get cancer, I felt in my heart that we were predestined to spend those precious times together.
Chris's sense of peace on his deathbed was a life-changing experience for me. "Don't worry about me, Mom, "Jesus is coming, and I'll be fine." His peace truly had transcended any understanding that I'd had up until that point in my life. At the time I wasn't a bible reader. I hadn't given Chris any scripture or any pearls of Godly wisdom. His peace had come from outside of our earthly realm.
I have shared that story many times. I am still in awe of how the Lord allowed my dying son to witness to me.
After Chris died alcohol gave me a form of peace. The warm glow spread throughout my body and dulled my senses. At first, anything seemed possible. Those of us who have battled addictions know what it is like to return again and again to a chemical peace, a false spirituality. What seemed like freedom at first eventually became a prison.
When I finally surrendered to a loving twelve step group, the sense of peace I felt was overwhelming. Here was a bunch of people who understood me better than anyone else, and they did it with true unconditional love. They talked about a higher power that gave them peace. It started me on a quest to find that loving God. In the years following Chris's death I started studying the bible and sharing my growing faith with Chris's younger brother, Jarrod.
Jarrod, like me, was always and outside the box kind of person. He had a gifted IQ, but hated school. Unlike his older sister, who thrived in school, Jarrod had trouble conforming and ended up finishing online. But during those sometimes troubling years Jarrod and I became very close, and he trusted me enough to confide in me and ask for my advice on matters of the heart. "Do you think I said the right thing, Mom?" He'd ask after sharing a conversation he'd had with his girlfriend.
My heart would swell with love and pride when Jarrod and I had those conversations. I could see the man that Jarrod was striving to be. Once again, I felt a tremendous sense of peace knowing that I was fulfilling my God-given motherly role.
When Jarrod was 19 he and some friends, who were all under the influence, got in trouble with the law. As as a result, Jarrod had to spend 2 months in jail. The Lord used that time to work on Jarrod. He requested that I bring him a bible.
"Mom, I read this cool passage today," He told me from behind the plate glass. "I really like how it talks about the belt of truth, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit." Here was my son, stuck in jail, finding peace in Ephesians 6. And like my other son, he was teaching me the true meaning of peace.
At the tender age of 21 Jarrod was killed in a freak accident. Like Enoch, the old testament prophet whom God suddenly called home, he was no more. Maybe God was pleased with Jarrod also and wanted him. I know Jarrod didn't always walk with the Lord like Enoch, but I do know that they both ended up in the same place.
A few days after the funeral, Jarrod's girlfriend called and said, "I have to tell you what Jarrod said to me a couple of days before the accident. He told me that he felt really at peace with God."
I have some friends whose children are atheists. They worry about where their children will spend eternity. While they can still call them on the phone, sit down to meals with them, and give them hugs; they don't share the same peace I have about my children⸺a peace that surpasses all understanding.
Do I feel peaceful all the time? Absolutely not. I cry out for my boys that I miss so much. Some days it's hard to get out of bed. Some days my life without them feels more like a life sentence.
But I have come to realize true peace doesn't mean feeling good all the time. It is grounded in the certainty of an absolute truth. This truth has been planted in our hearts by a creator that we all long to return to. Knowing that we will someday—that is peace. It waits gently behind my tears.