Fall is a busy season for many of us. Families return from an eventful summer and transition back to a normal routine. Children and youth head back to school. FCBC Walnut kicks off the new church year with ministries and activities. From the moment we wake to the moment we retire to bed, our lives are scheduled to the very minute.
During the summer, our church had the opportunity to study through the Psalms of Ascent. I had the opportunity of preaching Psalm 122, one of our texts, to the youth. The final verses of the psalm revolve around the theme of peace, which is particularly helpful for us in this season of busyness.
The Priority of Peace
In Psalm 122:6-9, the word “peace” is mentioned three times—and if you count the words “secure” and “security” in verses 6 and 7, five times. It’s clear that the author of the psalm wanted to emphasize the necessity of peace for the listeners. The primary imperative of this section is actually in verse 6—it’s the word “pray”. The author encourages listeners to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Ultimately, the author’s desire is that the Israelites would enjoy peace while they are within Jerusalem.
Why was this such an urgent desire and request? Why would the author command the Israelites to pray for peace? Back when this psalm was written, remember that the nation of Israel was the people God chose for Himself. And because they were chosen, that implies that other peoples and nations were not chosen—the very peoples and nations that surrounded them on every side. The Israelites made their home in a land inhabited by enemy people groups who desired to war with Israel because they claimed to be chosen by God. Thus, the author of Psalm 122 urged his people to pray for peace while they were within Jerusalem’s borders.
The Threat to Peace
In a world full of worries and anxieties, this is a message that we need to remember too. What threatens your peace?
Maybe your peace is threatened from those around you. Some of our youth have shared about the struggles they have with other students. Many of their classmates have differing opinions about hot-button issues like abortion or same-sex marriage. We are thought to be intolerant and hateful for what we believe the Bible to faithfully teach. As I continue listening to news from our nation and around the world, it is obvious that the world is only growing more hostile to historic Christian principles.
Maybe your peace is threatened by the way you see yourself. When we browse our social media feeds, it’s easy to be preoccupied with our reputation and how others perceive us. We wonder what our friends think of us, or why we aren’t as popular as he is, or why we aren’t as attractive as she is. We see friends having the greatest time traveling to a new country, or trying the newest boba place in town, and we grow jealous of missing out on the fun. With social media, we grow anxious identifying with the online life we have constructed for ourselves.
Maybe your peace is threatened from the circumstances you are in. Every exam in school is another opportunity for our students to feel that they have failed themselves or their families. We are pressured to put in just one more hour at work, or risk a poor performance evaluation or even losing our jobs. Our parents grow older, weaker, and sicker, and we feel helpless to their pain and inability.
In these moments, we should heed Psalm 122 and the imperative to pray for peace. We can pray for peace, and we can pray in the context of the church with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Together, we can seek peace in Jesus.
The Prince of Peace
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Phil 4:6-7
We don’t have to be anxious, but instead we can pray and ask God that He will give us peace. We can have peace in Christ because we know that He is in control of all things. He knows what will happen tomorrow, so we can trust that He will carry us through it. He loves you and He will take care of whatever worries and anxieties you have. You can trust in Him.
Our church recently began singing CityAlight’s Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me in congregational worship. Another song by them, Ancient of Days, has been particularly encouraging to me as it relates to the theme of peace. When the world threatens our peace—whether in the unknown of politics, safety, or future events—we can trust that God has known it all and is in control. We can trust in His goodness and His grace, because He is our Ancient of Days.
Though the nations rage, kingdoms rise and fall
There is still one King reigning over all
So I will not fear for this truth remains:
That my God is the Ancient of Days.
Chris has served as a member of FCBC Walnut in various ministries including Children’s Ministries and In-Transit. He is a current medical school student and hopes to serve the Lord in bivocational ministry as both physician and pastor in the future. He writes about medicine, theology, and Christian living at http://christophermwong.wordpress.com/. View more articles from Chris or visit the blog homepage.