“Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.” Job 22:21
I’ve been thinking a lot about peace lately. There seems to be so little of it in the world, and it seems so easy to try to blame that on any number of obvious suspects.
Peace is something I think we all strive for, but it is something many of us (me included) struggle with.
My sense is that it is because of where we look. So often we’re inclined to look to those things that we have control over. Perhaps it’s something material. If I just owned this, or lived there, or had a better job – I would have peace. Perhaps it’s our relationships with others. Loneliness and longing to be in a relationship or perhaps loneliness and longing because our existing relationships aren’t living up to our expectations may affect our sense of peace.
I know that I also indulge in feelings of frustration when I allow things that I don’t feel I have control over to affect my sense of peace. World peace seems threatened by an unnecessary war begun under false pretenses and perpetuated through fear of the consequences of failure. Religious fundamentalism both at home and abroad is upsetting. The senseless hysterical fear of both Christians and Muslims used to justify brutality and murder in the name of God is shocking. Self-importance, self-righteousness, bias, close mindedness, cynicism, deception, and manipulation are all deeply disturbing to me.
The problem is that all of our attempts to discuss and resolve these issues fail. We all seem to want peace, but we all want it under our own terms.
So what CAN we do?
I think that we have to start by recognizing that our feeble efforts fail because they all come down to human attempts to pattern the divine. Peace is an attribute of God. Any human attempt to replace that quality with something of our own making (however noble) is doomed sooner or later to fall short and be unsatisfying.
Peace is found, as Job said, in seeking greater understanding of our Maker. It is a surrender of all of our merely material concerns and our need to control and pass judgment on the outcome. Jesus was trying to tell us the same thing when he said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) His peace derived from His oneness with the Father. He encourages us to follow His example and seek Peace from the same source rather than the crude illusion the world offers. When we look to God, we find peace reflected in all of His creation. We get to replace hate with love, trouble with blessing, and fear with trust. Then we become the peacemakers of the Beatitudes and our reward is that we see peace everywhere.
Clearly we’ve got a lot of work to do, but that’s as it should be since it is the work of a lifetime.