‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid’.
The Bible tells us about 150 times ‘Do not be afraid’ and, although I do try to be lighthearted and unconcerned about all that is going on in the world, I am probably not doing such a good job. We are constantly reminded that, no matter what our circumstances are, we have a God who is with us.
Similarly, when we travel through a creepy forest at night with a companion rather than alone, we feel significantly more at ease. We are never alone because we walk with our Creator.
Unlike worldly peace, which is usually depicted by an absence of conflict, the work of the Holy Spirit is a deep and lasting peace that provides a confident and lasting assurance - no matter the circumstance. Nikki Gemmell in her column in Saturday’s Australian describes a continuous 'detonation of little depth-charges of worry', with which we are bombarded by our phones (and the 24/7 news cycle) each minute of each day.
Gremmell advocates balance and perspective, highlighting the positives on which we can focus – even during the challenging times in which we find ourselves. She emphasises the 'green shoots' of humanity that give us hope and encouragement.
"Lismore families rescued in tinnies, Ukrainian villagers stopping a Russian army tank, anti-war protesters on Russian streets and TV stations, a fractured and softened western world unifying over the magnificent concept of human freedom. Bravery, connection and compassion go viral; we crave examples. Need these affirming moments of triumph over our species’ fallibility and frailty; they’re so beautifully, tenderly human. Teaching us how to be better. Kinder. Wiser. All the while as we ache for sweet, dull normality once again, because it will come again, as it always does."
So, while we may struggle with anxiety, uncertainty, and doubt, these green shoots of peace help to balance our troubles and offer us the comfort of Christ’s peace in place of conflict.
The green shoots of hope are all around us. If we fear, our challenge is to remember God’s presence with us.