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Shalom in the Chaos

Updated: Nov 14, 2020

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."

John 14:27

John 14:27 is one of the most comforting and powerful verses in my list of favorites. I've been thinking about peace a lot these days. Our external world is most definitely in turmoil. It's easy for my own inner world to be swept up in the whirlwind, taking on the agitation of the world. But learning to receive God's gift of peace into my heart has literally changed my life.

"Peace." The common western definition of peace is "the absence of conflict." But I've come to realize peace in this passage means so much more than an absence of conflict.

Jesus was Hebrew. When he spoke these words to his disciples, he would have used the word, "shalom."

Many are familiar with the Hebrew word "shalom." It is commonly translated as “peace." But shalom has a rich meaning in Hebrew and encompasses so much more than our simple word, peace.

Hebrew: Shalom

Rabbi Robert I. Kahn of Houston, Texas, capsulizes the distinctives of "Roman" peace and "Hebrew" shalom:

One can dictate a peace; shalom is a mutual agreement.

Peace is a temporary pact; shalom is a permanent agreement.

One can make a peace treaty; shalom is the condition of peace.

Peace can be negative, the absence of commotion.

Shalom is positive, the presence of serenity.

Peace can be partial; shalom is whole.

Peace can be piecemeal; shalom is complete.

According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, shalom means “completeness, soundness, welfare, peace.” It is also used idiomatically to mean both hello and goodbye.

"In modern Israel, when someone greets you or says goodbye, they will typically say, 'Shalom.' In saying this they are actually saying more than just hello or goodbye, and more than just a simple ‘peace be with you’. They are actually saying something more along the lines of, 'may you be filled with a complete and perfect peace and be full of well-being' or, 'may health, prosperity, and peace of mind and spirit be upon you.' Beyond being just a simple wish for peace and happiness, the word suggests a state of fullness and perfection; overflowing inner and outer joy and peaceful serenity."

Jason Soroski

True biblical shalom refers to an inward sense of wholeness, harmony, prosperity, welfare, success, health, tranquility, and carries with it the implication of permanence. It speaks of completeness, fullness, or a type of wholeness that encourages you to generously give back.

Nowdays when I pray John 14:27, I picture all that "shalom" implies:

"Today I will focus on my own heart —my own soul. Jesus you said, "Peace I leave with you." You permanently left me Your very own shalom—Your completeness . . . Your wholeness, soundness, welfare; Your harmony, prosperity, health; Your well-being and tranquility. I choose to accept the shalom you left for me.

You told me not to let my heart be troubled and not to be afraid. I will choose to stop allowing myself to be agitated and disturbed; and I will not permit myself to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled. I will choose to let Your perfect shalom calm me in every circumstance, and give me courage and strength for every challenge.

Amen! So be it!"

Added thought when I posted this on FB:

When I was little I was out on Lake Michigan in a small fishing boat with my grandparents. The fish were biting and my grandpa didn't head in soon enough when he saw the dark clouds approaching. . . we were caught in a severe storm and I will never forget it! My grandma stuck me under her seat so I wouldn't go overboard in all the wind and huge waves. I was protected through the storm. We finally reached a rocky shore MILES from where we set off, and people braced themselves against the wind to help us.

The wind and waves of life may violently toss you to and fro—but if you stay under the care of Jesus, He will bring you safely home.

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