As Jesus spent his last hours with his disciples, prior to his arrest, trial and crucifixion, he brings the evening to a conclusion with some amazing words,
I have told you all of this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.John 16:33 (NLT)
His fearful disciples, seem to me, to be anything but at peace; but Jesus could say such words because He is the Prince of Peace, and there is clearly something different about the peace that Jesus gives to that which a world that ignores God can offer.
I’m sure, like me, you have been dismayed at the violence that has soured many recent demonstrations in the USA, and the apparent total disregard for social distancing at certain gathering’s in this country and around the world. Many in the NHS, who have laboured tirelessly over the past few months to do all that they can to control the spread and death toll of COVID-19, have expressed sadness and frustration at such irresponsible actions.
We can all identify with turmoil in our lives – and it can come in all different guises – illness, bereavement, relationship problems, redundancy, financial pressures. There are a number of families in the Reading area whose lives have been turned upside down following the tragic events last weekend. Each ‘turmoil’ leaves us anything but peaceful! Emotionally, we are stretched to our limits. This past week, I have been trying to support 6 men who have been informed of a death in their family. They are devastated, grieving, isolated and helpless; but I take heart in the fact that at this point, Jesus, The Prince of Peace, can come along side to calm troubled hearts and minds. The Apostle Paul calls this, ‘the peace which is beyond all human understanding’…. Philippians 4:7.
Horatio Spafford had planned a European trip for his family in 1873. In November of that year, due to unexpected last-minute business developments, he had to remain in Chicago, but sent his wife and four daughters on ahead as scheduled on the S.S. Ville du Havre. He expected to follow in a few days.
“On November 22 S.S. Ville du Havre was struck by the ‘Lochearn’, an English vessel, and sank in 12 minutes. Several days later the survivors finally landed in Cardiff, and Mrs. Spafford sent a telegram to her husband simply saying, ‘Saved alone.’
Spafford left Chicago immediately to join his wife. As he approached the area of the ocean thought to be where the ship carrying his 4 daughters had sunk, he wrote the following words:
When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul’…….
In the most tragic of circumstances, Spafford experienced the peace of God. May you, whatever is currently ‘your lot’, know the peace of God sustaining you at this challenging time.