In Galatians 5:22, Paul encourages Christians to cultivate the fruits of the spirit rather than fall to the temptations of the flesh. As Christians, we show the world how the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is a better path and serve as an example of a “better way”. One of the fruits of the spirit is peace. As a child, I remember adults requesting “peace and quiet” in the house (could we children have been a bit rowdy?). The absence of noise is not the peace Paul is encouraging. As a teenager I remember people saying, “Peace, man” while holding up the peace sign. During the tumult of the Vietnam War, peace, or the absence of fighting, was the hope. I don’t think Paul was referring to that kind of elusive peace either. The true source of peace is Jesus Christ. His peace offers us a refuge during times of distress and is the peace I seek to know and show the world.
“While she has had times of struggle in her marriage, finances, job and health, she has continued to be “at peace” with the world.”
But finding peace in difficult times is not easy. When people disappoint, when medical issues disrupt, when financial challenges come and in times of grief, I often struggle to find peace. While thinking about writing this article, I was looking for someone who has exhibited peace to me. That person is my mother-in-law, Louise Holt. While she has had times of struggle in her marriage, finances, job and health, she has continued to be “at peace” with the world. She has always had a gentle spirit toward others and has shown patience and kindness to those who didn’t always return it to her. Even those who visit her today, as dementia and a weakened heart have taken their toll, can still see her peaceful spirit through her smile as she greets everyone. Her relationship with Christ shows in the peaceful way she handles the distress of aging, confusion and poor health. That kind of peace is what we all need to handle the challenges of life. And it’s available to each of us through our relationship with the Prince of Peace.