Peace for the troubled heart

In the Gospel passage (John 14:27-31a), Jesus assures us that in him there is no reason to be afraid nor for our hearts to feel troubled. The opposite of a troubled heart is peace, but very often we head for the wrong kind of peace, he says.

When a spouse or friend argues with us, we try to regain peace by proving that we’re right or by making the other person agree with us. And when this doesn’t work? How then can we find peace? Maybe we punish the person by using “the silent treatment” or by refusing to have a good time together until we get an apology. And when this doesn’t produce peace, then what?

For every troubling situation, we try a multitude of worldly ways to feel peaceful again: We anesthetize ourselves with alcohol or drugs or food addition or burying ourselves in work. We insist on our own way, or we pout and withdraw, or we dump the problem into someone else’s lap and run away. We blame others to appease our own guilt. And when this fails to calm our fears or soothe our troubled hearts? Then what?

Even when our troublesome trials end, our troubled hearts are never fully satisfied. Burnt once, we shy away from all flickering flames, wary that one of them will explode and burn us again. Cynicism and self-protective walls that shut others out are a sure sign that we’re not turning to Jesus for the peace that only he can give.

Jesus says, “Not as the world gives peace do I give you peace.” His peace is a gift that we discover only by uniting ourselves to his life and to his Holy Spirit. A broken heart is never fully mended by those who broke it; it can only be healed by Jesus.

Because no one overcomes evil completely except Jesus, and because he defeated the “ruler of the world” by his sacrifice and resurrection, only his love can satisfy us completely. But to receive his perfect love and the peace that comes with it, we have to quit insisting that we get it from those who hurt us. Yes, they should love us more; yes, they should want to reconcile with us and make amends, but even if they do, they can never give us the fullness of love that Jesus provides. So why look to them for what they cannot give? We must keep our eyes on Jesus at all times!

When in our troubles and fears Jesus seems far away, remember what he said: “You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.'” When he seems to be gone, we have not been abandoned. He has given us his own Holy Spirit to guide us and comfort us. He most assuredly will do the Father’s will for you, for you are God’s beloved child.

© 2016 by Terry A. Modica

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