For all of us, our world has been turned upside-down. The ugly and silent reach of COVID-19 has touched the corners of the globe.
The virus’ fallout has been disorienting; its impact is disconcerting and surreal.
Living in this new reality is like attempting to create a pathway on shifting sand. Not only is walking steadily a challenge, but a simple or before-assumed task is questionable or quickly deemed impossible. We find ourselves needing to answer questions that that were never asked before.
By days end, fatigue and deep exhaustion, like never known or experienced before, settles in.
At every turn, everything normal is abnormal. Everything predictable is unpredictable. Everything scheduled is unscheduled. Everything certain is uncertain.
In the midst of the chaos and shifting sands, I was reminded of a word that appears no less than three-hundred sixty-nine times in Scripture.
A simple, easily spoken, five-letter, one syllable word.
This word bookends the Canon, in Genesis—appearing in the beginning, and in the end—Revelation. “Peace” also appears in fifty-eight of the sixty-six books of the Bible.
Strikingly, in its many uses and appearances, is how often “peace” is spoken in the midst of absolute chaos—absolute terror—and absolute uncertainty!
This word was spoken by God to heroes of faith: Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Esther, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Joseph, Mary, Zacharias, and on and on.
At a time when their world was being turned upside-down, just as our is now, this word was spoken into their lives.
What a timely and needed word for the world…and for all people of Christian faith.
One of my favorite verse in all of Scripture comes from the very lips of Jesus:
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27 NKJV)
For context, these very words of Jesus were spoken in the middle of absolute chaos in the upper room, even as chaos was also unfolding in the streets of Jerusalem. It was the upper room where the disciples were going totally off the rails. All Christ had invested into their three-year mentorship seemed lost in the chaos.
As they joined Jesus at the table in the upper room, one disciple was about to betray Jesus. Another was to deny him. All twelve were provoking one another and self-posturing themselves as the greatest.
By night’s end, they would all abandon Jesus.
But only for a moment.
These words of Jesus hang in my church office opposite my desk. Many times in the course of a day I find myself staring deeply into the peaceful artwork which accompanies this promise and command of Jesus.
Often, I find myself needing to pray this verse over persons who sit in the chair beneath the picture frame. I pray the truth and promise of this verse over the need, the hurt, the question, the chaos, whatever may be unfolding in their life in that moment.
I need to pray this scripture over myself.
Chaos will not rule forever.
Chaos does not have the last word.
God has the last word…and,
Jesus IS the Word.
Let us remember, the word spoken by Christ in the midst of our chaos is:
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.