“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with all of you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
“‘History is merely a list of surprises,’ I said, ‘It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again. Please write that down.” — Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
I don’t want to write that down. But what I want doesn’t change the way things transpire. Whether I agree with Vonnegut or not, over the last few years there clearly has not been a shortage of surprises. And according to Jim Collins it’s no use to wait for calmer waters:
Uncertainty is chronic, instability is permanent, disruption is common, and we can neither predict nor govern events. There will be no new normal, there will only be a continuous series of not normal episodes, defying prediction, and unforeseen by most of us until they happen. (Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0)
Life is difficult. How can I continue to show up for more of it? Isn’t the experience of “unpeace” supposed to be only for the wicked? Is it possible to experience peace in the unceasing turbulence of change and hardship?
The church in Thessalonica for whom Paul is praying, asked themselves similar questions. The assembly was weary of afflictions, and some had gone down the rabbit hole of end-time speculations and theories. In his letter to them, Paul establishes the fact that believers are not disconnected from historical life with all its ups and downs. What makes all the difference, is that just as we are real and live our lives in a real world, so the Lord Jesus Christ is real. He is the beginning of history and the end of history, and he has radically entered history at its center. Whatever may or may not happen, God holds our story in his hands. When we live our lives centered on Him, the center will hold because Christ’s love and faithfulness are real and practical and therefore knowable to ordinary men and women at all times in all ways.
Questions to Ponder:
- According to the above painting by Rembrandt of the disciples in the storm with Jesus, which two options do we have when it comes to navigating the unpredictable waters of our lives?
- How can saying to oneself, “This situation is where God is wanting to meet and bless me” help you affirm that Jesus is present with you even in your painful and trying circumstances?
Prayer of Response:
Lord of peace, this hurting world has lost its way pursuing a peace that can never appease. I believe that you are with me and that you give peace that surpasses all understanding. Please guard and govern my heart at all times in all ways in light of this reality.
—Submitted by Gudrun Reeves
Gudrun Reeves lives and works at the Christian retreat center Champfleuri near Grenoble, France. Her past year was full of changes and surprises, one of them being that three (out of four) children left home to go experience Christ in the middle of change and surprise. Now she is looking forward to the season of Advent with its traditional focus on making more room for God to come into our world.