God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging. — Psalm 46: 1–3
Shalom, peace, is a word so interconnected with the Jewish faith that it has become almost a symbol of Judaism. But what is the true meaning of peace, shalom? This is one of six devotions exploring the deeper meaning of what it means to bring peace into your home, your relationships, and yes, the world.
A number of years ago, an art gallery ran a contest to see who could create a painting that best portrayed the idea of peace. There were many worthy submissions — a magnificent painting of a sun setting over the tranquil waters of a pristine beach; one depicting lush pastures with rolling green hills and a placid lake. Yet, another submission was a beautiful landscape of fresh snow out in the mountains with a small log cabin glowing with the light of a warm fire within.
Yet, none of these peace-inspiring scenes won the prize. Instead a most unlikely contender was awarded first place. It was a painting depicting a storm, with lightning flashing and winds blowing through the trees of a rocky cliff. But if you looked a bit closer, you could see why it was the winner. In the cleft of the rocks was a mother eagle with her wings spread out over her six sleeping chicks. It was the very essence of peace.
Friends, as we have discussed before, peace isn’t the absence of storms in our lives. There will always be storms that come and go. Peace is the ability to remain tranquil through the storms while taking shelter under the wings of the Lord.
Another good depiction of this idea would be a painting of Noah in the ark floating above the waters of the flood as described in Genesis 7. All around Noah, the waters were raging. Death and destruction was happening all around them, but Noah and his family were safe and secure aboard the refuge of the ark. Appropriately, the name Noah means “comfort” and also “rest.” Noah was able to stay at rest during the storm because he had obeyed God.
This is a great illustration about how we can weather the storms of our own lives. There can be great tumult going on around us. The economy might be in the dumps, war on the horizon, trouble at work, a bad medical report. Yet, through it all, we can stay at rest in our ark, floating above it all. Here’s how.
The Hebrew word for ark is tevah, but tevah can also mean “word.” Following this definition, we can say that Noah found rest in the “word,” and likewise, we can find rest in God’s Word. When the storm is raging around us, we can take refuge in the words of our God.
Consider some of God’s words to us. He tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). He declares: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God” (Isaiah 41:10). We are promised: “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge” (Psalm 91:4).
We can always find peace in God’s Word and, with it, weather any storm that comes our way.
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