What comes to mind when you hear the word peace? For me it’s the cliché of a pond in perfect stillness or a sea with just enough breeze to allow for smooth sailing. Turbulent water is nowhere in the picture. All is quiet and serene. But the truth is, if I possessed that kind of peace all the time, I would probably go crazy. I would certainly become fat, sleepy, and bored. Surely that can’t be what God intends when he offers us his peace.
I like what Charles Spurgeon, the great nineteenth-century preacher, had to say about the blessings of trouble. He is talking about how not to raise a son, but the same advice would apply, of course, to raising a daughter.
“If you want to ruin your son,” Spurgeon says, “never let him know a hardship. When he is a child carry him in your arms, when he becomes a youth still dandle him, and when he becomes a man still dry-nurse him, and you will succeed in producing an arrant fool. If you want to prevent his being made useful in the world, guard him from every kind of toil. Do not suffer him to struggle. Wipe the sweat from his dainty brow and say, ‘Dear child, thou shalt never have another task so arduous.’ Pity him when he ought to be punished; supply all his wishes, avert all disappointments, prevent all troubles, and you will surely tutor him to be a reprobate and to break your heart. But put him where he must work, expose him to difficulties, purposely throw him into peril, and in this way you shall make him a man, and when he comes to do man’s work and to bear man’s trial, he shall be fit for either.”1
Could it be the trials that often throw us into such confusion and cause us to question God’s love are in the end meant not to rob us of peace but to make us people who are filled with shalom—whole, healed, confident, safe, prosperous, complete—able to hold our heads high not because life is easy but because we belong to a Father who loves us and teaches us how to live?
- Charles H. Spurgeon, “A Mystery! Saints Sorrowing and Jesus Glad!” (sermon, Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, August 7, 1874), transcript, Spurgeon Gems, accessed November 18, 2011, http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols10-12/chs585.pdf.