From our Women’s Panel Co-Host Cheryl Nembhard

“Peace isn’t the absence of the Storm, it’s knowing who’s in the boat with You through it.”

When we look back on 2021 and it’s ugly stepsister 2020, one thing is certain, these past two years have been some of the most difficult, most emotional, most divisive and most polarizing times we’ve ever experienced. For so many of us, it has been challenging to navigate this season.

For me, personally, 2020 was one of the hardest years of my life. From navigating all of the issues of COVID-19 and isolation, to a resurgence of what felt like the civil rights movement of the 60’s to being sidelined with the grief of seven deaths in my family and friends circle.

Seven deaths, in one year.

If there’s ever been a time that I’ve needed the shalom peace of God, it’s right now.

So as we continue on our advent journey over the next few weeks, let us pause to think about what it means to have peace, live a life of peace and the difference between peacekeeper and peacemaker.

When I think about peace, I think about what it can look like in its highest form and what we’ve reduced it to, day to day.  In its highest form, peace on earth looks like unity and harmony, one with the other – a world without hatred, segregation or separatism. This type of peace comes from an understanding that all are made in the image of God (Imago Dei) and that no one demographic is above the other.  This is the peace we as believers should be striving towards daily, to live in unity with our fellow man…to love our neighbour as ourselves.

What we’ve mistakenly reduced peace to, on a day-to-day basis, is the absence of conflict or turmoil.  Honestly, I wish it were that simple, but it’s not. The challenge with that wrong thinking is that we can buy into the misconception that our lives could be without tragedy, devastation or conflict, if we simply pray for a “peace filled” life. This false hope can lead to tremendous disappointment, resentment towards God and a heart of bitterness because of what life has handed you,

I think about the disciples who were on the boat with Jesus when a horrendous storm hit in Mark, chapter 4 verses 35-41:

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.  37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”  39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

We are those disciples in the boat: overwhelmed, terrified and angry that we are experiencing life altering storms and asking God if He even cares whether we drown or not.  When I think about the crazy storms in my life. in 2020 and the destructive winds that were blowing from all directions, I realized 4 powerful truths. Each truth represents the 4 directions of north, south, east and west:

  1. When the storms hit the disciples, Jesus was right in the boat with them.  We can so easily forget that Jesus is right there with us, in the midst of the storm.

  2. Peace isn’t the absence of the Storm, it’s knowing who’s in the boat with You through it.  God did not promise any of us a storm free life but he did promise that He would be OUR PEACE and we can trust Him to speak to the winds and the waves and bring calm to every situation.

  3. Knowing that Jesus is with us doesn’t change the position of the storm, but it will change our posture while going through it.  The storms may continue to rage for a bit longer. Holding on to the knowledge and comforting truth that Jesus is with us and we are never alone, doesn’t suddenly change the trajectory of the storm but it should completely change the posture of our hearts to one of peace, faith and joy in the midst of hard moments.

  4. The pursuit of peace is not in an ideal or the maintaining of a stress free life.  Peace is the presence of a person and that person is the Lord Jesus Christ.

I pray in this season, right in the middle of the hectic-ness, the chaos, the frustrations, the grief or the disappointments that You would discover the all encompassing peace that is found in Jesus. May your heart come to know the One who speaks to the storms and the winds and waves obey His voice.

Jesus truly is the Prince of Peace and is ready and waiting to calm your anxious heart. Trust him, surrender your worries and fears on Him…and find rest for your weary soul friend.  Amen.