The other day, an ad from an insurance company popped up on my Facebook feed. A smug-looking man smiled from my computer screen and the tagline read: Complete Protection from Cancer.
I did a double take because the ad was so obviously misleading. How could an insurance company protect you from cancer? Of course, the fine print explained that the company covered Rs 10 lakhs of cancer-treatment-related costs. Obviously, this was meant to put your mind at rest.
But the promise was glaringly empty.
No, an insurance company cannot protect you from cancer. And, going by the long list of disclaimers in the ad, it may not be very helpful with the cost of treatment, either.
So much for giving you a sense of peace in life’s just-in-case situations.
That’s the kind of peace the world offers you and me - flimsy and fleeting.
But God’s peace is entirely different.
God doesn’t make empty promises. There are no disclaimers. There is no fine print.
One of the most astounding examples of that extraordinary peace is the story of Joni Earecskon Tada. You’ve probably heard the story before, but it’s worth remembering, even as you walk down your own painful path.
A confident and attractive young woman, Joni had everything going for her. Her dad was an Olympian and, like him, Joni loved sports. She swam and rode horses and enjoyed hiking. But when she was 18 years old, a diving accident changed everything. Joni lost all movement from below her shoulders. Once athletic and independent, she could no longer even get herself out of bed on her own. That was fifty years ago.
In the last few years, Joni has battled stage three breast cancer. She lives daily in chronic and debilitating pain which makes her quadriplegia seem like a “walk in the park,” she says.
But what is staggering is Joni’s effusive joy and abiding peace right in the midst of her pain.
Joni experiences what the Bible calls the “peace that passes understanding.” (Philippians 4: 7)
I would venture to say it’s an “unreasonable” peace. It’s not logical. It’s not quantifiable. It’s hard to grasp. But it’s undeniably real.
In John 16: 33, Jesus says: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus doesn’t sugar coat reality. He is candid about the fact that we will all find ourselves wedged in life's hard places. But in Him we are guaranteed peace in the midst of brokenness - because we hide ourselves in the One who has overcome the world.
Joni puts it this way, “He has chosen not to heal me but to hold me. The more intense the pain, the closer His embrace.”
Maybe that’s what it comes to: Being held by God when you find yourself crumbling.
When the pain is intense, be held.
When you don’t have the answers, be held.
When someone hurls false accusations at you, be held.
When things fall apart, be held.
Be held by One who is never going to let go: The Prince of Peace.
He makes you lie down in green pastures. He restores your soul. He knows that our deepest longing is not for things. Our deepest longing isn’t even for relationships. Our deepest longing is for Him. Declare that He is your Hiding Place when the storms strike.
Be held in the peace that only God can give you. Know His embrace when you find yourself in life's hard places.