A Lasting Peace - A Reflection on John 14:27-31a
I don’t know if you ever noticed this, but Jesus never wished anybody happiness. In fact, nobody in the New Testament wished anybody happiness. And, if that surprises you, then think about this. The word ‘happy’ itself is to be found only once in the NRSV, and you can’t find the word many more times in other major translations. Why? Because happiness is elusive and illusory. It’s like pouring water into a hand. The water just flows off and whatever is left dries up in no time. Think about it and you’ll see how this describes happiness.
But what is lasting is peace, and you will find this mentioned a LOT in the Bible. And you will find Jesus using the word often. Like in today’s passage where he says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (John 14:27). Why does Jesus say his peace is different from the world’s?
Because the world sees peace as something that is obtained when there is an absence of conflict, but Jesus’ peace is obtained even in the midst of conflict. And that is true peace. How does one get it? By trusting Jesus, and knowing that no matter what happens he is with us and he will take us through the storms of life. And also by knowing that if he has permitted something to happen to us, it is for a reason. We may not know what that reason is, but we believe it is a good one.
I have two very dear friends, both of whom are suffering from kidney failure and need dialysis to survive. One is a young man named Ashley who is married with children; the other is a younger lady named Valanka. Despite their suffering, they are among the most joyful people I have ever met in my life, brimming with hope and love. And peace! How do they manage to be like that? Because they keep their eyes fixed on Jesus and know that he works for the good of all those who love him (see Romans 8:28).
There is a beautiful song by Lynda Randle that puts it very well. It goes like this (and I’m not singing this one!). He never said you'd only see sunshine; he never said there'd be no rain; he only promised a heart full of singing; about the very things that once caused pain. So, give them all to Jesus: shattered dreams, wounded hearts, and broken toys. And he will turn your sorrow into joy.