God is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? God is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1-2 (KJV)
As a child, I used to play the game, "No Bears Out Tonight." My two brothers would be "the bears" and hide in the bushes or behind trees while my sisters and I ran around the house, trying to make it back to the base of our front porch. It was terrifying to suddenly be confronted with one of my brothers jumping out at me from his hiding place. I would run as fast as I could to my safe place, touch base and be thankful I had made it! I never knew when or where I would encounter my fear; I only knew it was coming! But I also knew where I could go to be safe.
That might be the way many of us feel as we see the news and deal with life. Sometimes this world just seems too violent and people are too evil. But I have some important words from Jesus which can enable us to say, "I too know where my safety is found."
It is the night of the Last Supper. Jesus has just spoken of his impending death. He tells the disciples that one of them will betray Him and urges Judas to go and do quickly what he has planned to do. Jesus talks about going where they cannot follow and they are confused about this. Like a lost child at an amusement park, these disciples are afraid, uncertain, confused and nervous. And so Jesus continues to speak,
Don't let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me… Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, give I to you. Don't let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful. John 14:1, 27 (NIV).
In the New Testament, the peace Jesus gives is an unconditional, eternal gift to His followers in every time and place. That is why He does not give peace as the world does - for the world, peace is often very conditional, fragile, temporary and is often reduced to mean only the absence of war and strife.
However, with Christ's peace there are no strings attached; there is the wonderful promise that it will last forever. Peace in the New Testament sense means:
Friendship with God
Peace is also the Holy Spirit in our lives as friend, comforter, counsellor, teacher and healer. Peace is knowing that no matter what comes our way, God, our heavenly Father has promised to never forget us and to always be our helper and strength. We are His special and most loved children.
Our strength, our mind and our skills are of no particular use. We need to remember that patiently trusting in our God who knows all of our needs will produce the peace we seek to make it through whatever we are facing.
So, when fears and worries seem like a bear just waiting to jump out at you, listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit who points us to the love and compassion of our God. When fears and worries create tension and upset your life, Jesus promises, "Peace I leave with you.” We can absolutely trust His words. Our safe place is in the arms of God. He loves to hold His children and to provide the peace and comfort we need. Run to the safety of God. He is waiting to hold you close.
Dear Father of peace, forgive us of our weakness of faith when we try to figure things out on our own. I pray that we will incline our ears to the Spirit of God to hear His voice pointing us to the love and compassion of God. I pray that we would remember that one day God will take us from the troubles of this world into the eternal world where there will be no more fear. Until that day, help us remember when fear is near, God is even nearer. In Jesus' name, Amen