The God of Peace Validates

Paige AllenBy Paige Allen9 Minutes

Excerpt taken from He Knows Your Name: How 7 Nameless Women of the Bible Reveal Christ’s Love for You by Paige Allen

 

If peace were something you could bottle up and sell, we would have a new billionaire on our hands because I don’t know anyone who isn’t reaching out in search of peace. On the surface we all have problems that steal our peace—the car breaks down, your child gets sick in the middle of Target, you lie awake at night trying to reconcile your bills, or your coworker makes a passive-aggressive remark that you agonize over in your mind. And under the surface, we are carrying anxiety about the world and our safety, doubts about God, and fears we are afraid to voice. It’s a lot to carry, and as the load gets heavier, peace seems to slip away like a balloon floating into the sky, never to be found again.

I think this is why we run after small elixirs of distraction that give us a fleeting sense of peace. You know what I’m talking about: a new outfit to make you smile, more hours at kids’ soccer games cheering when they score or sit down to examine the grass, scrolling a new dating app in search of the perfect guy, or escaping into a new book or the show everyone is talking about. It’s not lasting peace, but for a little while we forget or ignore the frenzy of our minds and settle down long enough to breathe.

A few years ago, I thought the answer to my search for peace might be found in a new house. It needed work, but it had a backyard view of a small lake, and there’s always been something about water that soothes my soul.

Over the years, I’ve talked to individuals and crowds alike about peace, and I’m always intrigued by the fact that most people describe peace as a place. Think about it for yourself. What is peace to you? For some it is sitting by the ocean, while others may say it’s getting a massage as soothing sounds play in the background. Still others have told me peace is being surrounded by those they love, knowing all are safe, while others describe naps under fluffy covers or a gigantic bathtub overflowing with bubbles. Although each of these scenarios is unique, each revolves around an environment that is free from discord or dissension.

In the story of the woman who anoints Jesus, He ends their encounter and her time of worship at His feet by saying the words “go in peace” (Luke 7:50). The word for peace here is eirene, which means “to join or bind together.” In other words, it is the antithesis of division or dissension. Serene is derived from this word, and it’s very much in line with the Hebrew word shalom, which is also translated as peace. Both words, one Greek and one Hebrew, connote wholeness, or as my dad often says, “nothing missing, nothing broken.”

Eugene Peterson says, “Jesus is the dictionary in which we look up the meaning of words,” and this thought lands true in my heart as I attempt to define God’s idea of peace. In the midst of this story, Jesus was sitting in an environment that was lightyears away from serene. He was publicly shamed and then the center of a woman’s uncontrollable sobs as she tried her best to give Him the honor due His name. Yet Jesus embodied peace. He was not flustered, reactionary, or distracted. He settled into the mess in order to speak truth to a Pharisee and value to a woman. He didn’t need still waters or soothing sounds. He was the epitome of calm in a storm because He Himself had nothing missing and nothing broken. He extended peace to this woman and invited her into His shalom, a place where our insides match the outside. Where sobs matter because they indicate the abundant love and gratitude of a forgiven heart.

God is called Jehovah Shalom (God our Peace) on one occasion in the Old Testament. This name was proclaimed as an act of worship by a man named Gideon who originally described his clan as “the weakest” and himself as “the least” of his entire family (Judges 6:15). You could say his inside view did not match the outside view that God declared him to be. An angel of the Lord called him “mighty hero” a few verses prior to his weak and least description (Judges 6:12).

The angel’s message—that God was with Gideon and calling him to step into the role of leader and mighty warrior in order to defeat the Midianites—was hard for Gideon to believe, but after a miraculous sign and repeated promises that God was present, Gideon’s eyes were opened and he built an altar as a way to worship and step into alignment with God’s presence. Gideon named the altar Jehovah Shalom, which means “the Lord is peace” (Judges 6:24). What happened next is an interesting story that could be a picture of the chaos of our world.

After God directed Gideon to pare down his army to only three hundred men, He then gave him a strategy that was supernatural if not comical. The army split up into three groups and surrounded the evil Midianites. They were directed by God to simply blow horns, break clay jars, and hold up blazing torches from the three outposts and watch what God would do. As they obeyed God’s game plan, they witnessed complete chaos as the enemy perceived them to be greater than they really were, and Gideon and his men stood in amazement as the Midianites began to panic and fight each other instead of the Israelite army. The dreaded enemies died by their own swords, and victory was in the hand of this unlikely leader.

I find it interesting but true to life that in both stories—the woman who wept and Gideon who led—the environment in which they experienced peace was far from tranquil. We read of chaos, fighting, big emotions, enemies, judgments, and fear. And yet peace survived in the midst of the storm because God was there.

Adapted from He Knows Your Name by Paige Allen, provided by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Copyright 2023. Used by permission.

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