I am thinking about how very blessed so very many of us are.
And I am thinking how often our emotional wounds, due to rejection, derision, threats, false friends, loneliness in the midst of crowds, being deeply and caustically misunderstood or disenchanted, and having family members that oppose us or believe we are tragically deluded, haunt us to such a degree that what gratitude we may feel for the blessings we have received is deeply overshadowed by a belief that we will only be at peace if those wounding experiences are removed not only from our lives but the lives of everyone else we care about.
And I am thinking about Jesus, who spent much of his ministry with his person and his teaching consistently rejected, derided, threatened, misrepresented and ultimately heart-wrenchingly betrayed. He experienced feeling alone and caustically or ignorantly misunderstood, having beloved family members thinking he was all wrong and without a family home to welcome him. And he also knew (and said) that many of the people he dearly loved, who sought to live the kind of life he demonstrated, faced the same and would experience the same throughout their own lives as well.
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
And yet he faced those experiences and that knowledge with calm, immovable, love and hope, both for those who suffered and for those who on purpose, or inadvertently, caused suffering. He knew and lived peace.
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you...Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
He spoke calmly, and immovably for what he believed was right when others, both the powerful and the weak, derided both him and his ideas. And having said it, usually calmly, and occasionally very, very unmistakably clearly, he let it be and focused on blessing those at hand who were in need. He taught and spoke without needing for others to agree or “see his point of view”. He did not fear the hurtful results of others failing to heed his words. And he did not anguish over not making everything right and fair and good and “the way it should be”, right now. I think it is because he truly understood mercy and grace.
He spoke the truth without monitoring how it was received and without losing hope when it was not heeded. And he did not ostracize or fear to encounter those who rejected what he said (unless, of course, they were setting about to stone him, and even then it was a calm quiet, “passing out of their midst”). In the synagogue and in the temple and on the side of the hill overlooking the sea and everywhere else he was the Prince of Peace. He was hope for us and trust in God personified. He just WAS.
Or, you might say, He just IS.