In 1873 Horatio Spafford’s wife and their 4 daughters from Chicago set sail on the French ocean liner, Ville du Havre, crossing the Atlantic to Europe with 313 other passengers on board. Mr. Spafford stayed in Chicago to attend to unexpected business and his plan was to take another ship and join them in Europe a few days later for a much needed break. About four days into the journey, the Ville du Havre collided with a powerful, iron-hulled Scottish ship, the Loch Earn. Within approximately 12 minutes, the Ville du Havre disappeared beneath the dark waters of the Atlantic, carrying with it 226 of the passengers including the four Spafford children. A sailor in a small rowing boat who crossed the path where the vessel had sunk spotted the mother floating on a piece of wreckage, still alive. Once safely in Cardiff, she wired her husband the message:” Saved alone……” Mr. Spafford took the next available ship and on this journey on his way to join his grieving wife, he wrote the well -known hymn: It is well with my soul!
What could have inspired Horatio Spafford to have peace in the midst of these circumstances? What is your go-to when you want to experience peace? Watching a beautiful sunset with a friend, listening to great music, walking on the beach, sitting in the garden sipping your favorite drink, jogging, cycling? We all have ways in which we relax in a peaceful setting in an effort to calm our busy minds. Some of us search for peace by escaping into virtual realities in games or movies or social media. Have you ever been in such a peaceful setting while your mind is still racing? It seems sad that even in the most beautiful ambience you can experience tension and stress.
Although externals can help to create an atmosphere of peace, peace is essentially an inside job. True peace has little to do with external surroundings. There has been countless efforts over the ages to get people to experience inner peace but most of these efforts point people to themselves as the source of peace. The problem with such efforts is that it ignores or denies the existence of the true source of peace. In Isaiah 9:6, Jesus is called the Prince of Peace and in Him lies all the potential for us to experience peace in any set of circumstances. Paul refers to “the God of all peace” in Rom.15:13 and in Gal.6:16. The meaning of the Hebrew word used in the Bible which we translate as ‘peace’, refers to totality, wholeness, completeness, harmony, security and wellbeing.
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.” 1 Cor.14:3
What we sometimes fail to understand is that we get to choose. God waits for us to reach out to Him to take hold of that which He wants to give. There is a definite action required on our part which is then followed by a divine act of God when He imparts peace in our hearts. Amazing!
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Col.3:15 “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” Heb.12:14 These verses imply a decision on our part to embrace peace and to turn our focus away from the source of worry, strife and stress. In Philippians 4:7 Paul teaches that we should rejoice in everything. This is not a positive thinking exercise or pretending we are happy when life is tough. No, this refers to something much deeper: an understanding of the goodness and kindness of God, a sure knowledge that His love is unchanging and never ending and His purposes and plans are good. The instruction is to rejoice in the Lord, not in bad circumstances. Our joy is in understanding the greatness and goodness of God and in declaring our dependency on Him in prayer. When we do that, the promise follows: Peace! Peace which transcends any fact or argument there might be to justify stress.
Phil.4:6-7(TPT) describes it in this way: “Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell Him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.”
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
When we look at the world today, there are many reasons to worry, many reasons to fear and many reasons to stress. Yet, when we look at God, these things fade into insignificance. His love is unending, his power is unequaled, his wisdom is unsurpassed and his Name and plan for peace is Jesus! The presence of Jesus in a given situation makes all the difference. Peace has a name! Call on Him!