Peace. Peace is one of those words that feels like it has lost its deeper meaning in our culture. Two fingers are flashed during concerts, peace signs are turned into wall art and tie-dyed t-shirts, and Kip tells Napoleon, “Peace out” when leaving for Detroit. However, the kind of peace I think we long for is not only between races, nations, and political parties, but a deep sense of peace within our own warring hearts, minds and souls. A peace that the Bible refers to as “Shalom”. “According to Strong's Concordance 7965, Shalom means “completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.” Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full. This is the kind of peace we long for and what is promised through the Prince of Peace this Advent Season.
I had a taste of this peace several years ago. I had been struggling with anxiety for a few years. I experienced random anxiety attacks, which would feel like I was having a heart-attack. They were terrifying. One day I was walking down Massachusetts Ave in Cambridge, MA, where my wife and I were living, and I had an attack. I thought I was dying. My chest became tight and I was struggling to breathe. I cried out in prayer, “Lord, why is this happening?” I heard a voice tell me I needed to forgive someone who had deeply and profoundly wounded me years prior. I did at that moment, and the anxiety attack ceased and I haven’t had one since (about 10 years now). What peace! The contrast between the anxiety- the attack of worry and thoughts that would race through my mind- and the quiet and stillness in my heart was profound. And this is just a taste of the peace that Christ longs for us to experience with him as Lord. A full picture of shalom will come, along with his Kingdom. For now, we get brief previews.
I hope small moments of shalom can be found in these last weeks of Advent for you. Whether it’s in the form of quietness and stillness after kids are asleep, within strained relationships, or peace found through a deeper understanding of Christ’s love and commitment to each of us. He entered our chaotic, broken, anxious world in a tangible form- in the most approachable way, as a child- to offer a peace beyond all understanding. Advent. Peace. Merry Christmas.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27
**Strong's Concordance info found on therefinersfire.org