2016 has been a year of suffering. We have suffered through the anguish of losing loved ones, the pain of having to explain why the world is not fair and just to our children, the frustration of struggling to make ends meet after having lost a job. We have suffered through personal losses, communal indifference, having to let go of people we thought were friends. We have suffered through anxiety, stress, and fear trying to figure out how to keep going when everything looks to be falling completely apart. How are we expected to live with peace during times like these?
The Israelites asked a similar question in Judges. They were living through a season of turmoil that caused them to lose everything. Their response to difficult times was to turn their backs on God and worship false idols. In turn, God delivered them to the hand of the Midianites for seven years. During that time, the Midianites ravaged the Isrealites’ crops at harvest, slaughtered their livestock, and forced them to take shelter in the “dens, the caves, and the strongholds” of the mountains (Judges 6:1-4). It wasn’t until the Israelites cried out to God that He sent Gideon to deliver them from the hand of the Midianites.
Judges 6:24 is when the tables turned ushering in peace for the Israelites. God placed upon Gideon his purpose to defeat the Midianites, Gideon accepts his calling and built an altar for God, calling it “Jehovahshalom” (The Lord is Peace).
So, what does all of this have to do with you, the world in which we’re currently living, and our need for peace? Everything.
One of the first lessons we learn from the Israelites is what not to do when things look bad. They turned their backs on God and started building alters to false gods. We have the tendency of doing this this when we turn to food, alcohol, drugs, co-dependence on others, shopping, and gambling as coping mechanisms rather than God to get us through our tough situations. If we reach that point of no return, we are loosed to our sin, and the further we move into our sins, the further we are pushed into the hands of our the tormentor whose main goal is to “steal, kill, and destroy” us and the purpose, the harvest, God has for us (John 10:10).
BUT we do not have to choose this fate. All we have to do is declare our faith in God and rely on him even when the world is dark and it seems we have no place to go. This declaration is a sign of our surrender, not in the form of defeat, but in triumph knowing Jehovah Shalom, God’s peace, comes in response to that declaration. This means peace of mind, peace about the situations we’re in, peace in our spirits, and when we have this peace, it transfers to our homes, our children and families, our endeavors, to all things. This means we don’t have to live in fear, worry, or doubt. We don’t have to allow our emotions to be ruled by what’s happening in the world, what’s being reported on television, and what information is being shared on our social media timelines.
Please do not get me wrong. Praying to Jehovah Shalom does not mean that we are inactive once He shares His peace with us. Just as Gideon and his army of 300 went into battle and defeated the Midianites, we, too, must suit up with the “breastplate of righteousness, gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit, and prayer”, in order to go into battle every day against the “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12-18). The ultimate peace we receive from our Jehovah Shalom is the knowledge that these daily battles belong to the Lord, and that, no matter the circumstance, how big the enemy looks, God prevails every...single…time (2 Chronicles 20:15).
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Please join me on Wednesday, October 19th for Jehovah-Shammah, "The Lord is There", the next installment in my "Praying the Names of God" Fall Selah blog series.