This past week marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, a conflict that continues to influence world affairs to this day.
My wife and I recently had the opportunity to tour the location where the peace treaty was signed that ended the conflict between Germany and Allied Powers. The treaty was signed at the Versailles Palace, just outside Paris, and brought to a close the conflict that claimed 8.5 million lives but paved the way for more than 60 million more to die just a generation later and countless millions since. Why didn’t this treaty bring peace?
Recently in a time of private prayer, I was beseeching God for peace in my life. As I was praying I was struck by the myopic view of the situation. I thought that if only God would answer my prayers by taking away the problems I was facing then I would experience real peace.
In the midst of the prayer I was moved to change my focus from one of asking for the problems to be removed to one of asking for the strength to deal with the problems in a more Godly way. Even as I began to change the focus of my prayer, I began to feel a sense of peace.
In Philippians 4:6-7 we are told to pray to God and He will allow us to experience a peace that exceeds anything we can understand. I can understand a peace that comes from not having any problems, so that must not be what God meant. When God gives us strength to deal with the pain and the suffering of reality and still be at peace, then that becomes hard for my mind to understand.
Yet it is in the pain and the suffering that we are most like Jesus Christ, who cried out to the Father and was comforted by the Spirit as He gave His life on the cross for you and for me.
The reason the Treaty of Versailles did not bring peace is because the absence of conflict does not bring peace; it just brings a lull in the hateful and selfish ambitions of people until the next battle flairs up. It is the same way in our lives.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that once all your money, relationship, family or health problems are taken care of, then you will have peace.
You will never be completely free of problems in this life, but that doesn’t need to keep you from experiencing a peace that just really doesn’t make sense. A peace in the presence of problems.
Submitted by Todd Martin, assistant professor of sociology, Trinity Western University