Like so many people, I often find myself overwhelmed by life’s responsibilities. Most days I feel like one of those plate spinners that you see at the circus, running around wildly from one twirling dish to another, trying to keep them all in motion. This stressful routine often leaves me on my knees praying for peace, asking God for some “Shalom in my home!”
I realized the other day that I may be praying for the wrong thing. That’s because, when I pray for peace, I am usually really asking God to change the things outside of me that are causing me stress. But, a stress-free life is really just a fantasy isn’t it? There will always be bills to pay, missing school work, sick kids, broken cars, aging parents, deadlines at work, world crises, and arguments with spouses to deal with. It’s these things that cause us to long for heaven.
Instead, when I pray for peace, I should be asking, specifically, for peace within. In the Gospels, Jesus often used the Hebrew greeting, “shalom aleichem (shah-lohm a-LAY-khem)”, which translates to “Peace be unto you” or “Peace be with you”. Now, certainly Jesus knew that the folks he spoke to would face lots of tough times down the road. So, I must believe that the kind of peace he was talking about was the peace that resides in our hearts and is available to us no matter what’s happening in our world.
The verses that always come to mind when I think about that kind of serenity are these from Philippians 4, “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 your minds in Christ Jesus.”
You’ll notice those verses do not say God will answer your requests by giving you whatever you ask for. However, we are promised a gift that will serve us much better in the long run, the gift of peace. The kind of peace that endures the weather and protects us from whatever comes our way.