Tension and stress take a toll on the soul. Extreme tension and extreme stress take an extreme toll on the soul. We are designed by God to be people of peace, but inside and outside forces are constantly bombarding us in ways that are disruptive, harmful and sometimes fatal. Every person who lives on the East Coast anywhere from the Bahamas to Canada knows this after Hurricane Dorian surged through.
But go back a second. Do you realize you are designed to be a person of peace? What does that mean to you?
The Hebrew word for peace, shalom (שׁלום) is derived from a root denoting wholeness, completeness, soundness, health, safety and prosperity. Its frame of reference throughout Jewish literature is bound up with the notion of shelemut, meaning perfection, and carries with it the implication of permanence.
From the very beginning of life in the Garden of Eden, we were created to enjoy shalom. Adam and Eve had every thing they needed. They had each other. They had beauty, sustenance, things that delight, and most of all, they had a relationship with God, walking with him every day in a place of perfection. They were perfectly at peace until disobedience in the form of an apple entered the story.
I think that connection is a strong one. Is your lack of peace a result of your disobedience? Is God calling and directing you to do something that you are resisting?
I have a lovely friend who was resisting God’s call to peace with a relative who is especially challenging. You met her in my devotional, “I’d Rather Cut Off My Arm.” She realized that God was urging her to “pray for her enemy” as a visit with this person approached, and so she did. The result was wonderful: God brought her into a place of peace as she was able to resist responding to her relative’s outbursts and craziness, and they had a good visit. Her peace was even able to bring peace to the relative, and a change in demeanor was the result. It was her obedience to the call to pray that brought her this shalom.
Where is your lack of peace connected to your lack of obedience? Are you consuming things you are being told not to touch? What is your “apple?” Drugs, alcohol, affairs, inappropriate movies and books, anger, bitterness, resentment, grudge-holding…taking a bite out of these things surely will destroy your peace.
Jesus came to restore shalom. Through the forgiveness of apple-eating, he brings peace back:
Isaiah 9:6-7 New International Version (NIV)
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
We weren’t meant to live in strife. We were made by our creator to be people of peace. Take this message today, and lean on it. Learn from it. Root out the source of your stress, and throw that rotten apple away.
Isaiah 26:3-4 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
3 The Lord gives perfect peace
to those whose faith is firm.
4 So always trust the Lord
because he is forever our mighty rock.
Photo by Allison Brown.