“A SEAR FOR PEACE WITHIN”

October 17, 2007

     (PASTOR MAURICE CHIDIEBERE BEN) 

It is obvious that mankind is seeking the answer to the confusion, the moral decay  and the spiritual emptiness that oppress our world. All of humanity is crying out for comfort and inner tranquillity. The agonizing cry have echoed down through the ages, but it is heard with increasing crescendo as the world becomes progressively more tempest-tossed and panic-stricken. Endless human achievements directed at making the world a safer, better place to live, have only made life more complex and complicated; they end up producing a wild merry-go-round of confusion and chaos.With the advancement of science and technology, we have it easier in many ways than our ancestors, yet we are miserable,  more empty within, we are more uneasy, we are more worried, there is fear on every side: fear of the known, fear of the unknown. The increasing rate of depression, stress and hypertension among people of different age groups attest to this.  All these also attest to the fact that we need ‘’peace of mind’’.

 What is peace?  People in different times have tried to define peace in different ways. But the Dutch philosopher, Barunch spinoza (1632-77) attempted to define peace more understandablilly.  He came closer when he wrote: “peace is not the absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice”. Yes, peace is not the absence of crisis and problems. The New Testament pictures our Lord Jesus Christ sleeping in a storm-tossed boat (Mark 4:35-41), Matthew 8:28-34; Lk 8:26-39.

Basically, we gain a better understanding of the meaning of Peace from the Old Testament Hebrew word translated as peace in english which is “SHALOM’’ and it means, ‘completeness; soundness; ‘well-being. It is used when we ask of or pray for another(Gn 43:27; Ex 4:18), when one is in harmony or concord with another (Jos 9:15; Kg 5;12)when one seek the good of a city or country (Ps 122:6; Jer 29:7); It may mean material prosperity or physical safety (Ps 73;3; Ps 4:8), it may also mean spiritual well-being.The sum total of all these scriptural concept of peace gives us a better understanding of what peace is all about- a virtue, completeness and a state of well-being and tranquillity within.  The heart of every man is yearning for this state of completeness and inner tranquillity. And this is what i refer to as ‘’peace of mind”

 When we stop to live in a state of frustration and anxiety and begin to live in a state of serenity and calmness within, we have acquired one of the greatest treasures that man can ever have. Peace within brings contentment and cheerfulness and is a source of strength to ourselves and others.But one may ask, ‘’can this treasure truly be found in a world of so much conflict and despair, of so much turmoil and trouble? 

 For ages, multitudes have been seeking peace of mind in fame, or fortune, in pleasure or power, in education or marriage. For some, their heads are crammed with knowledge; their purses are filled with wealth but their soul remain empty. Others seeks to escape from realities of life through drugs or alcohol, but the peace they seek elude them, rather they reap hang-over, depression and mental disorders in return. All their seeking only take them in a vicious circle of frustration and futility. They are still empty and lonely.  The famous evangelist, Billy Graham once told a story of Isadara Duncan, the greatest ballet dancer who danced before the royalty of Europe and was considered one of the greatest ballet dancer of all times,  but she said, ” I have never been alone but that my heart did ache, my eyes filled with tears, and my hands tremble for a peace and joy that I never found’’. She went further to say that in the midst of millions of admirers, she was actually a very lonely woman.Some years ago, a beautiful young Hollywood star with apparently everything a girl could want, ended her life. In the brief note she left was an incredible simple explanation-she was unbearably lonely. The absence of peace of mind leads to inner feeling of loneliness and despair. Many are victims of this, many are suffering in silence, some try to cover their inner emptiness and misery with big clothes, big titles. So many big and flashy cars and big houses are covering the excruciating emptiness and misery of tired people occupying them.  

The key to the quest for peace is not and cannot be found in the material world. We would like to blame the troubled world, governments, economy etc, but within our heart is the answer to our dilemma. It is there the cure must begin. Someone once said,  ‘’since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that defences of peace must be”.  

God made man a living soul with longing to be in fellowship(communion) with its maker. The absence of God in a life creates a vacuum. It is therefore interesting to know that it is only God and God alone that can fill that vacuum within you. The psalmist put it in this way, ‘As the hart pants after the water brook, so my soul pants after you, Oh God, my soul thirst for God, for the living God’’(Ps 42:1&2). It is only the living God, the living Christ, the living word that can satisfy the soul. It is certain that you can never be at peace until you are at peace with God.

Though our soul long for God, but our sinful nature rebel at his ways. Part of us yearn for God and part of us craves for worldly desires. Our heart is a battle ground of continual conflict. This inner struggle causes tension and excessive strain, we are ‘like troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mires and dirt’’(Is 57:20). There can be no peace until all of life, mind, body are coordinated by the one who made us and understand us. He is not only the master of the world but knows your life from the beginning to the end. He was thinking about us when he came into the world ‘’to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace’’(Lk 1:79). As the prince of peace, he invites us to come to him “come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest(Matthew 11:28). when we come to him, we will find relief and relaxation in the freedom he gives. Our peace will be like a river (Isaiah 48:18), a peace that passes all understanding.(ph 4:7) We should understand and appreciate that the nature of the world as it is today is far below the standard that God-the creator has in mind for man and his world. God created man and placed him in a beautiful garden to enjoy perfect peace and happiness and joy, but when Adam and Eve were seduced by the devil to abandon the God-centred life, they were created to live, and indulged in the self-centred life, they were once stricken with guilt. Where before they had longed for the presence of God, they now hid themselves in shame. Guilt and fear replaced the peace and happiness they know. Here was the genesis of a troubled world and a troubled mind.Guilt, fear, irritation, resentment, selfishness and other hostile impulses plague us. Wherever we go they bring weariness and mental exhaustion.’  ‘Self’ was at the centre of the first disobedience of man. It continues to be one of the evil inclinations that takes us down the part of despair and heart-ache. When we become self-centred in our wants and ambitious, we become anxious and fretful. The longer we travel the path of self-centeredness, the more troubled and battered we become. Instead of seeing ourselves as the centre of existence, we need to turn to God and make him our central purpose in life. Without God at our centre, we fall easy prey to worries, self-pity, fears, anxiety and despair. With God at the centre of our life, every area will reach out from the’ hub’’ like spokes in a wheel and make our lives complete, firm, active and purposeful.  Only a heart centred on God can be kept steady and peaceful. The scriptures declares, ‘’Thou(God) will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord, for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength’’ Isaiah 26:3,4. With our whole hearts fixed on God, we enjoy a deep-going inward peace in the midst of outward troubles. Then it will be possible to be troubled on every side and yet not distressed;…..perplexed, but not in despair’’(2 corinthians 4:8).Faith and trust in God alone are the antidotes for fear, anxiety and despair. How restful to trust in the only God who is from everlasting to everlasting. Jesus Christ said, “come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest’’. (Matthew 11:28). Your life will certainly take a new positive dimension as you respond to his invitation because he is the way to life, he is the way to God, he is the prince of peace.

Shalom!

            

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October 12, 2007

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