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Peace Through Suffering

And he asks of me, “If I asked you to leave your family to follow, would you? If I asked you to come away with me for a few moments of communion, would you? If I asked you to trust that I know what is best for your life, would you?” Savior, steal into the quiet moments of my life to remind me of you and me, of us.

 

Peace (A Communion Blessing from St. Joseph’s Square). By Rich Mullins

I vividly remember listening to this on my CD player back in 1998 as our ramshackle bus lumbered along from one orphanage to the next in Rajasthan, India. My idealist heart was singing the words right along, “though we’re strangers, still I love you, I love you more than your mask, and you know you have to trust this to be true, and I know that’s much to ask.” Back then, I didn’t worry about choking back the tears of love and joy I felt, and yet over the years, through failed churches and ministries, watching leaders fall and servants fail, I guess my heart just got hard along the way. And it hasn’t been until these last few months that I have revisited that solemnly compassionate place in my soul. I didn’t know if I could let it be wounded anymore than it had been. And finally, something happened, maybe I just woke up one morning, and the walls had fallen, been taken down, but just weren’t there anymore. I remember this guy, this guy who knew how wounded he himself was, and who saw how wounded everyone else was, and just loved people. It’s good to have him back. 

Ever think that the peace of Christ isn’t a happy thing, not in the way that we talk about happiness. It’s a peace that exists in the midst of impending danger and suffering. Now there’s a beautiful word…”suffering.” We push it away, while our Messiah clung to it and asks us to follow in his footstep, to cling to our own cross. Maybe there’s a beautiful mystery that combines the peace of Christ with his suffering, and somehow ends in hope. “To lay down your fears, come and join this feast, he has called us here, you and me…in his blood and in his body, in this bread and in this wine, peace to you, peace of Christ to you.” 

Peace has always been bought through suffering. In the sacrificial system, it was an animal’s suffering. In Christ’s atonement it was a fully God, fully human suffering. There is a peace in suffering. Only in loss do we feel the fullness of hope. Otherwise it is all a mundane existence. Beauty is made more beautiful in the face of horror. Only after several days of cloud and rain do we express thankfulness for the warmth of sunshine. Everything in life is a season, a cycle, a give and take. It is the only means towards balance. To prevent ourselves from one is to exclude the benefit of the other. 

I remember that in India I promised myself to not let the change that was happening in me pass away with the comfort and convenience of being back in the states. Yet, over time it did. I wasn’t challenged to see strangers as creations of God, and therefore didn’t experience the fullness of the communion that God calls me to with him. I am a stranger to him, and yet he invites me to a peaceable communion with him. Now, he has led me on a path that has taken me away from family and familiarity. And he is leading me towards quiet moments of communion with him, and he is reminding me who He is, and who I am, and he is refreshing me. If I had run from this “suffering” I would be running from this Peace. 

“And his outstretched arms are still strong enough to reach behind these prison bars, to set men free.” 

And he asks of me, “If I asked you to leave your family to follow, would you? If I asked you to come away with me for a few moments of communion, would you? If I asked you to trust that I know what is best for your life, would you?” Savior, steal into the quiet moments of my life to remind me of you and me, of us. Let me stare into the mirror and remember my face. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

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