The 21st of September has been set aside each year by the United Nations (UN) as a day when the world observes the International Day of Peace. Known simply as Peace Day, it is a day, to quote the UN itself, “devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples”. This is such a powerful statemeny because, though human beings are all so very different, the desire for peace is something that brings most of us together. We all yearn for some sense of peace in our lives. It could be that, because of the many challenges that come our way, we may give up on ever finding it. But deep within us, the search continues and is lived out in one way or another – whether positively or negatively.
It’s worth asking the question: what is real peace? Added to that, where can it be found? At the level of the personal, is it perhaps as simple as the absence of problems and a sense that “everything is OK”? At the national level, is peace simply the absence of war? Or is there something more profound to it? Can a young man in Liberia at high risk of being exposed to and infected with Ebola find peace? Is there really such a thing as peace in the midst of a storm?
Clearly, the list of questions is endless. I’m convinced I’m not the only one who asks them every so often, particularly when my inner world seems to be taking bullets.
Here at 1Africa, we ask questions. Loads of them! But ultimately, we look at everything through the lens of our faith and try to bring everything back ‘home’ to the core of our faith and our hope in Jesus Christ. When it comes to peace, two specific verses make it clear that Christ knew that humanity would always struggle with the question of peace. “I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.” (John 14:27 – The Message)
In another part of the Bible, Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”
When I read this, I don’t see much about religion or philosophy. It’s about relationship. This is the kind of thing a friend would say to someone he/she really loves.
As we commemorate Peace Day – a very significant global observance – may we all take part in whatever activities go together with the occasion. More importantly though, let’s use the day to reflect deeply about what peace really is.