Picture a scene where the waves are gently lapping at the shore and the boats are sitting at the dock with their sails furled. You look at this and you think how quiet and peaceful this place is.
Picture a scene where the trees have been stripped of their leaves and the ground is full of holes and craters from bombs and artillery shells. But now the air is silent and the smoke has drifted away and the time of war has given way to peace and it is time to rebuild.
The second picture suggests that peace is not always easily attained. It suggests that there may be much struggle and loss and sacrifice before peace is finally achieved.
I thought about that last week as I sat with a young lady. Her cancer has come back and spread to other parts of her body. She has two young boys who are three and six years old. As she talked she could not stop crying. She couldn’t stop twisting her rosary in her hands. Her thoughts covered the spectrum as she questioned how could God take her away from her two boys who need their mother to how could God take her away from her father who needed his daughter to the sins she had committed and now believed that God was punishing her for them by giving her this cancer but how could a loving God do this?
As I listened to her I realized I was on a battle field. She was fighting for her life and she was fighting for her soul. She was fighting to understand all the complexities of good and evil and suffering and the meaning of life. She was fighting to find God’s loving hand in the wreckage of her life.
Since that conversation I have thought about the words in Isaiah 53 where it says, “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” For Jesus the price of peace was His ultimate sacrifice. He gave everything he had.
Thinking about the price He paid and the price this young lady is paying you can see the parallel. Before she can see the peace He has for her she has to come to peace with her mortality, her guilt, her anger, her shattered dreams, and her desire to come to peace with those she is estranged from.
So I crawled into her fox hole as the shells rained down. As we prayed for a miracle to make the chemo kill her cancer I also encouraged her to look at what she might give some thought to. What does she want her boys to know if she isn’t going to be there to raise them? What does she want to tell her mother that she hasn’t spoken to in years? Who does she want to stand with her in her battles and what does she want them to tell her to help her?
The price of peace is not cheap. Ultimately all of us must give up everything if we would receive it. Think about someone you know who might be lying in their foxhole feeling lonely and afraid and abandoned. Think about how you might be the medic who needs to crawl to their foxhole to help them find the peace that has been won for them.