The God of Peace

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. – Hebrews 13:20-21

Silver tomb of St. John of Nepomuk in St. Vitus Cathedral

Silver tomb of St. John of Nepomuk in St. Vitus Cathedral: John did not violate the confidentiality of the confessional and was martyred for it. | August 2017

These have been tumultuous times lately here in Houston and northwest Harris County! Hurricane turned Tropical Storm Harvey has dumped as much as 5 of 6 feet of water on our community! Reports have been that 30% of Harris County is under water. The destruction is all around. People are helping one another in various ways – from providing snacks, water, food, and other needed items, to cleaning out homes and tearing out drywall. The challenges are daunting, but there are many people who want to help, and are in the trenches.

At the other end of that spectrum, however, are those who are devastated. They have lost everything. They have no insurance. They are alone. They are afraid, alone, and anxious. The do not need to hear that everything is OK. For them it is decidedly not OK. To say so is like putting a bandaid on a broken arm. I am reminded of the prophet Jeremiah’s words:

They have healed the wound of my people lightly,
    saying, ‘Peace, peace,’
    when there is no peace. – Jeremiah 8:11

There are those who want to minimize the tragedy of others. “Oh, it’s only things, physical possessions,” they say. “Don’t worry about that family photo album, those prize doll dresses, the ruined books or keepsakes. They’re not all that important.”

Certainly worldly possessions are not the most important things. They can be replaced – minus any sentimental value we might attach to them. But the Seventh Commandment says, “You shall not steal.” And by that God recognizes and validates the value of our possessions.

The Stockdale Paradox is an insight arrived at by James Stockdale, during his terrible experience of being a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He realized that those who made it through that terrible experience did two important things: They didn’t give up hope, nor did they deny the brutal facts. Those who ignored the brutal facts, together with those who gave up hope did not survive. Stockdale says it this way: “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

True peace is founded in an honest assessment of our situation, connected with faith in God’s goodness, power, justice, and grace. The brutal fact is that flooding and recovery efforts are difficult, daunting, and draining. The hope we cling to is that our God is a God of peace, grace, love, and power. Our peace has been won by means of the violent, brutal death of our Lord Jesus Christ and his resurrection from the grave. Talk about facing the brutal facts with the confidence of God’s goodness and love! Jesus is our Champion and the object of our faith. He is our peace. Thanks be to God!

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