For thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. Isaiah 66:12-13 (ESV)
I recently saw an ad for a Ladies Retreat that boasted, "This weekend is nearly perfect.
There are mountains of chocolate everywhere. We have a massuese that
caters to your every massage need. Beautiful horses parade across autumn
pastures... The food is made with love and care all day long...
The chapel times are both relaxing and encouraging, as [our speaker] speaks right from the vibrant Word of God. And at night, as the day winds down, your memory foam bed hugs you as
you drift off to sleep, dreaming of the next day of shopping,
chocolate, beautiful country and fresh air.
The only other thing [we] need to make this weekend retreat absolutely perfect... is you!"
Wow! You sure packed your bags fast! That's ok, so did I. Doesn't that sound so relaxing and peaceful? My problem though is I want that to describe every day. However, reality is very different: housework and errands never go away, raising children in a promiscuous society, loving friends and neighbors who don't always love back, health concerns for family and the list goes on...Life is busy, how do I find peace in all of that?
In Isaiah 66 God offers peace for Israel, who had been in exile, their temple destroyed, their towns & homes desolate. Upon their return home, there was frustration and despair. In the final chapter of Isaiah God offers peace like a river and comfort like a mother. As author of all creation, He's the only one who can give peace when everything's a mess. Notice, God didn't say He would take all their problems away and replace them with chocolate and shopping. He offered peace while life was overwhelming and chaotic.
If joy is not the absence of pain, but the presence of God, then peace is not the absence of conflict but the calm/contentment no matter what the situation. Peace comes when we understand that "...for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28, ESV).