Perfect Peace

A few days ago, I watched the opening episodes to season four of The Chosen at our local movie theatre. I heard about the series in passing a year ago, but I only began to watch for myself last fall when three separate people told me how deeply the show was impacting them over the series of three days.

After a few episodes, I understand why its reach is wide and profound. (If you haven't watched, I can't recommend it enough.) In the most recent episodes, we witness a brief exchange between Peter, the disciple, and Gaius, a Roman centurion. As Peter leaves, he offers the customary Jewish departure, "Shalom, shalom."

Gaius asks a question that we, as viewers, might have asked ourselves, "Why do you say it twice?"

Peter responds that "shalom" once is peace, but "shalom, shalom" is perfect peace, complete wholeness.

I've followed Jesus for thirty years, and I'm still in awe of His gift of peace. A few weeks ago, over an Olive Garden lunch of soup, salad, and breadsticks, a friend told me about her husband's recent surgery which removed a malignant tumor. During the whole process — the discovery of the tumor, the leadup to surgery, the waiting for results on the tumor's malignancy, the post-op checkup — both she and her husband had remained in complete peace.

She told me, "I knew it was serious, but somehow I never was upset. Neither was my husband. I wondered whether we should be more worked up about it." As my friend reflected, she only could attribute it to the perfect peace of God, a peace that passes all understanding, a peace that guarded their hearts and minds.

What kindness from the Lord. 

I've had many days when I'm grasping for whisps of peace in the midst of turmoil, confusion, or grief. Many times, my level of peace feels like the "shalom" (not "shalom, shalom") variety: peace-ish, but not quite perfect in its wholeness. 

But peace isn't the absence of struggle, pain, or hardship. It's the presence of God, even in the midst of a storm. I can trust a God who is both powerful and close, both all-knowing and intimate, both unsearchable in His greatness and deeply caring.

Whether or not I see it in my circumstances or feel it in my emotions, God's peace is perfect, complete, and whole. It's deeper than what's happening around me or even within me. It's a peace anchored in the Lord himself, who doesn't shift like shadows, who remains a strong tower and fortress, who understands and comforts those who grieve, who upholds us with his mighty right hand.

Shalom, shalom, indeed.

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