About this blog: Discussing religion, spirituality and values. About the writers: Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star. Janet Marshall is the religion editor for The Free Lance-Star.
When your soul feels restless, pray for peace
BY HEATHER ABLONDI
As I stood in my kitchen last Friday morning surveying my house, I wrestled with my emotions. I had had a sense of peace and calm throughout the entire week. I realized that I hadn’t been stressed by the state of my space or all of the things that needed to get cleaned up around the house.
I didn’t feel pressured by looming deadlines or my ever-growing to-do list. Even though I had been up the past two nights with a sick child, my soul was quiet and content.
And that bothered me.
I am the type of person who feels like I am being lazy and unproductive if I do not have a million irons in the fire at once. Like many people, I feel that if I am not stressed out, something must be wrong.
As I contemplated what had caused the change in my attitude, I realized that my house had not miraculously cleaned itself (oh, that it would!). My to-do list did not shrink—actually, it grew. My children were not all of the sudden nice and congenial to each other.
So, what was the difference? When I began to pray about it, I felt God remind me of a conversation I had had with Him over the previous weekend—a time when my soul was feeling particularly restless.
I had prayed, “Lord, please send me your peace.” And Yahweh Shalom, the Lord of Peace, answered my prayer.
The Hebrew word “shalom” has a much more rich and complex meaning that our English word “peace.” Our “peace” usually refers to an absence of outward conflict or a state of inner calm.
The word “shalom” encompasses the above, but it also means “wholeness, completeness, perfection, safety and wellness.”
When we pray to Yahweh Shalom, we are literally praying to the source of all peace. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:13 that, “The peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep [our] hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
It is this very same peace that comforted Horatia Spafford in the midst of gut-wrenching tragedy. In 1871, Spafford’s only son died at the age of 4. Shortly after, he was ruined financially as a result of the Great Chicago Fire.
His business interests took even more of a financial hit in 1873, causing him to decide to move his family to Europe. The entire family was to travel together, but last-minute business delays caused Horatio to stay behind.
As they crossed the Atlantic, the ship rapidly sank after crashing with another vessel, killing all four of Spafford’s daughters. While traveling to meet his grieving wife, Spafford wrote one of our most beloved hymns as he neared the spot where is daughters perished.
When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.
The peace that Spafford experienced was certainly not based on outward circumstances, but rather a deep and abiding relationship with the Lord.
Thankfully, most of us will never experience the sorrow that Horatio Spafford faced. But we can take comfort in knowing that even in our everyday lives that peace is not the absence of trials—it is the presence of God. When I prayed the week before, God did not change my circumstances, instead He filled me with His peace.
Unfortunately, throughout my day, I still find myself trying to trade God’s peace with the stress and anxiety I have thrived on for most of my life. When I start to feel it creeping back in, I realize that nothing can compare with God’s perfect peace.
When we crowd out His peace, we are literally crowding Him out of our lives because He is peace itself. He is not “God of Peace” or “God Who Gives Peace,” but rather “God is Peace.”
I pray that you will experience God’s peace in a fresh way today and that no matter what you are facing, He will enable you to echo Spafford’s words as you proclaim, “It is well with my soul.”
Heather Ablondi is a women’s ministry speaker and author who resides in Fredericksburg. Contact her at heatherablondi.com.