Janie B. Cheaney: Peace through struggle

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, September 4th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. Next up, Janie B. Cheaney on what a peaceful life really means.

JANIE B. CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” wrote King David, after he had won the city by war. By the time Jerusalem fell into his hands, David had slain his ten thousands and was wise in the ways of war.

The capture of the city involved a siege, a strategy, and sneaking in by one of the drains, after which there would have been a lot of bloodshed. Before moving in and clearing a space for a holy temple, there were bodies to bury and stones to scrub.

“I’ll give you the kingdom,” God promised. But David also had to fight for it, with his mighty men and treacherous chiefs, with stabs to the stomach and blood spilled from Hebron to Jerusalem. What’s given is often hard-fought.

Our own forefathers gave us this land after fighting bitterly for it—with the natives, the mother country, and competing nations. Since then, we’ve been called upon to defend it, usually with violence, in order to restore peace.

“Peace” may sometimes be difficult to recognize and hard to define, but it’s more than the absence of conflict. It may even rely on conflict. We wouldn’t know what it was without its opposite.

Think how you might define a peaceful life: Growing up in a small town, marrying a high-school sweetheart and watching the kids grow up, mourning the occasional death of a family member, finally passing away—the most natural thing in the world after a decline into ripe old age . . . is that peace? Or is it merely tranquility, like a Thomas Kinkade painting?

It’s not that we should ask for conflict: it just happens anyway. Even lives that seem to flow smoothly are riddled with thwarted plans, disappointments, challenges, and heartbreak.

We may catch ourselves thinking that life was much simpler in the past, and hence more peaceful. But even Little House on the Prairie, lit up by nostalgia from the TV series and the books we loved, was not a tranquil journey for Laura Ingalls Wilder. The U.S. government gave the land, but the pioneers had to fight for it.

“Peace I leave with you,” Jesus promises: “My own peace, not as the world gives, do I give you.”

Something has changed since David’s time. The peace is internal, and for most of us, so is the fight. The territory to be subdued is spiritual. There’s plenty of war-language in the New Testament, as there is in the Old, but it’s a different kind of war. We put on the armor and fight the good fight, but our greatest enemies are not flesh and blood.

And yet—“My peace I leave with you.”

As the fight now dwells within, so does the Spirit. Every day I call my soul to arms against frailty, temptation, and fear. Then I go out and speak peace.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Janie B. Cheaney.

(Illustration/Thomas Kinkade)

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