“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. (NLT)
That word “peace” can mean different things. It can simply refer to a period between declarations of war. It can mean a degree of harmony between previous personal adversaries. It can mean relaxing on a deserted beach away from crowds and frantic activity.
All such “peace” is based on external circumstances: the physical environment, the presence or absence of other people, the actions or inactions of others, the state of our mind and body. Nothing wrong with that sort of peace, but Jesus seems to promise something different.
The basis of his peace is not a peaceful set of circumstances or a trouble free situation. It is not dependent on other individuals or corporations or governments or nations. It is a deep assurance that no matter what is happening in the world or in us, that we are in good hands. We may face trouble but we will not face it alone. We may be weak or in pain, but we will be understood and valued. We may be lonely and rejected, but we will be loved.
Any other sort of peace is a fragile commodity. It depends on things and people we cannot control. It is usually temporary because situations change. But the peace promised by Jesus is a different sort of peace. It comes not from an absence of trouble but from the presence of his Spirit.