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Peace in suffering
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Can there be?

It's often been said, "that peace only comes when there are no more trials, tribulations, strife, struggles, wars" (etc.).
And this is true to some "extent". If there were no trials, tribulations, strife, struggles, wars, etc. Than it would "appear" that all is "peaceful"! But this peace would only be external, "outward". It would be a "seemingly perfect" peace. But it would never be "real" peace! Nor would it be lasting!!
But this is what most of the world seeks after! "Outward preace". And the world seeks this in vain. For we see the "outward" conflict that the world is in, is troublesome and very sad! And no matter how much they try to bring peace, they never will be able to:
 "Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” 
And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
                               (Matthew 24:3-8 NKJV)
Now, does this mean we should never seek peace? Absolutely NOT!  But it does mean that this is what Jesus told us would happen!! This is the reality of this world!!!
And sadly the world does not know this. They continue to seek this outward peace and they believe this will fulfill them. But it cannot! It never could!!
You see real "peace" is not the peace you have on the outside! It is the peace found on the inside!! To the "uttermost" part of your soul!!!To the very "core" of "who" and "what" you are.
It is the peace that calms the mind, soul and the spirit. It says that, "no matter what goes on around me, my God is still in control". "He has accepted me and I am His". "He will never leave me!" (Hebrews 13:5). "And no one can take me from Him (John 10:28-30)!!"
This peace is hard to achieve! In fact it is impossible. Why? Because it cannot be "achieved". It cannot be "re-produced", it cannot be bought (or sold), it cannot be taught by others! Not by "self-help" books. Not by "new age", "meditation" techniques. Not by anyone, or anything at all!
Why? Because REAL and LASTING peace can ONLY be found in Jesus Christ:
  "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,"
                                     (Romans 5:1 NKJV)
For He is peace:
 "For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity."
                               (Ephesians 2:14-16 NKJV)
You see this peace goes beyond what the world tells us what peace is! It is the peace that we have when we are right with God!! And have become His children:
 "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him."
                                      (1 John 3:1 NKJV)
It is an "inward" peace:
 "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
                                         (John 14:27 NKJV)
A peace in which we know that God is not only in control, but that He is ever watching out for our well-being (in all aspects of our lives)! It's a peace we can "call on" whenever we are in trouble, or going through a trial!! It's the "inner" contentment (i.e. "knowledge") that God is watching over us for our good!!!
It is only found when we TRULY have surrendered our hearts and minds (i.e. lives) to Christ, and truly made Him, "Lord and savior"! It is the same peace that we have (and feel) in our hearts the day we receive Him as Lord and Savior!!
Sadly enough though, the world believes that they can achieve "true" peace. But there will NEVER be a "true" peace APART from Jesus Christ!
Jesus made peace for us:
 "But He was wounded for our transgressions,
      He was bruised for our iniquities;
      The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
      And by His stripes we are healed."
                                         (Isaiah 53:5 NKJV)
And He is the only way:
 "Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
                                       (John 14:6 NKJV)
And until they surrender their hearts, they will NEVER know what real peace is!
This world is not easy for any of us. It is a struggle for ALL! And as believers we do go through the same struggles as the rest of the world!! But for us it is different. We are not alone! For we ARE sons and daughters of the Most high!! The Maker of this world, and all things (1 Colossians 1:16)!!!
But with this, we must also remember that the Lord NEVER promised us that it would ALWAYS be easy and a "trouble-free" ride for us!
But He did promise us that "all things" would work-together for our good:
 "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified."
                                 (Romans 8:29-30 NKJV)
And whether good, or bad that comes our way. God can take ALL things and can use them for our good!
But this peace, whether in times of persecutions, or times of struggles, is never easy to accept! You see the human "inclination" is to worry, and be fearful. And with this life's problems, it's easy to understand why!
And we can feel alone. Feel "deserted". And at times want to "give up"!
And considering the world around us it's no wonder!!
But we do have one who can sympathize with us! In fact Jesus knew what it felt like to feel alone and in depair! Especially in His darkest hour. He hung on the cross in horrible pain. His hands and feet were nailed and He struggled to breathe. His friends had fled! Those around Him mocked Him in His pain and anguish. And He cried out:
  "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
                                (Matthew 27:46 NKJV)
You see Jesus knew what it was to really suffer, and feel alone. Just as we do at times and we wonder, and ask, "Lord, where are you?"
But Jesus also knew that no matter how it felt at times. He was NEVER really alone:
  "Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me."
                                           (John 16:32 NKJV)
And as we all suffer at times it' so hard to remember that God is always with us. But He is:
 "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
                               (Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJV)

And we are instructed not to worry:

 "Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith
And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you
Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
                                          (Luke 12:22-32 NKJV)
You see we cannot change any part of our lives by worrying! We cannot change our circumstances!! The things around us!!! Now we know as sons and daughters of our Lord that we have the right (given us by the Lord) to petition Him for His help (John 14:14)! And often times He does! But their are times when all does not change and we must go through our suffering, our trial. Whatever it may be.
And know this! Our prayers may not always get answered in the way we would hope. But they are always answered!
And in times when our prayers are not answered (the way we would like). It often feels like we are alone and (or) that God does not care. But nothing could be furthest from the truth! In fact often times, things are allowed to happen for our good. And because of this we are matured, i.e."refined" by the trials that we go through:
  "Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
      I have tested you in the furnace of affliction."
                                      (Isaiah 48:10 NKJV)
God sees, "the bigger picture". He knows all that is going on! All the background of our struggles!! More than we know!!! And He takes those things meant for evil and uses them for our good! Often times to help mature us!! To help "sanctifiy" us (for more info click here: The "reality" of the real Christian life!). To help make us the people He is calling us to become! To help "mold" us (John 15:1-2).
You see it is so hard for us as humans to remember that God has not deserted us in our trials. And it's even harder for us to accept His peace when we are suffering! Or we are being persecuted!!
But His peace is there, and it is available!!!
And sometimes it takes us accepting the bad as well as the good! Often times we can have the greater peace when we are going through a trial:
 "He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me,
         For there were many against me."
                                         (Psalm 55:18 NKJV)
The question for all of us is this. Do we ask for His peace and accept it:
"Now godliness with contentment is great gain."
                                (1 Timothy 6:6 NKJV)
 "The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways,
      But a good man will be satisfied from above."
                                (Proverbs 14:14 NKJV)
Or do we demand that everything be our way before we accept His peace?
You see the real test for us is this. Do we accept His peace on our terms, or His?
Remember this verse from earlier?
 "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
                                         (John 14:27 NKJV)
Jesus gives us His peace! Not as the world does, but as He does!!
And it is REAL peace! It is internal and it is lasting!! Not like the world and its external "faux peace". In fact the way the world reaches for the peace they are trying to achieve, is nothing more, than trying to "grasp the wind".
And what does His peace do? It calms our hearts and minds (and soul and spirit). And it reassures us that He is in control and that we are His (John 14:28-30)!! And that He will see us through it for our own good (Rom. 8:29)!!! But it is up to us to receive it!!!!
And if we are having trouble accepting it during the trials, then we must ask for His help! We must ask Him to give us His peace!! And He will!!! And it sometimes means that we must accept the trial we are in! And that it may not go away anytime soon!!
But He is there to help us! To "hold us up" through it:
  "Fear not, for I am with you;
       Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
       I will strengthen you,
       Yes, I will help you,
       I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
                                        (Isaiah 41:10 NKJV)
But we have to ask:
 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
                                    (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV)
And we must stay in His word! It helps to build our faith:
  "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
                                        (Romans 10:17 NKJV)
And it reassures our hearts that God is in control. it  comforts our hearts:
  "This is my comfort in my affliction,
          For Your word has given me life."
                         (Psalm 119:50 NKJV)
So be encouraged! Life is never easy, it certainly isn't "fun and games" all the time!!
But AS children of God we have a promise from Him!That He will see us through (to safety). And that He will bless us through it:
 "Those who sow in tears
         Shall reap in joy.
   He who continually goes forth weeping,
         Bearing seed for sowing,
         Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
         Bringing his sheaves with him."
                             (Psalm 126:5-6 NKJV)
But it is up to us to accept it!!!
And it does not mean that we give up on prayer, but that we KEEP praying and trusting the Lord:
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
         For my soul trusts in You;
         And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge,
         Until these calamities have passed by.

                                      (Psalm 57:1 NKJV)
So if you are going through a trial, and having a hard time? You feel that there is no peace for you? That God doesn't care? That He doesn't hear you? That you are alone?
Know this! God is still God!! He is still in control (Psalm 97)!!! And you ARE His child (1 John 4:4)!!!! And He NEVER deserts His children (Hebrews 13:5)! And He will see you through the storm (for more info click here: Going through the Storm!)!! And His peace is available to you!!! But you must ask, and then be willing to accept (i.e. receive) His peace!!!! And KEEP trusting Him:
 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
      And lean not on your own understanding
         In all your ways acknowledge Him,
      And He shall direct your paths."
                                 (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV)
And here's some "food for thought":
 "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
                                 (John 16:33 NKJV)
 "The LORD will give strength to His people;
         The LORD will bless His people with peace."
                                 (Psalm 29:11 NKJV)

Rev. John Heintzman
Evangelist Non-Denominational
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POHOM Columbus, Ohio
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