Chase after peace when your world is in chaos! Dodge rubber bullets and sharp cutting words, and raise your arms to the Prince of Peace, begging him for the sweet release of all who are captive to arrogant whims and violent solutions that are just pollution of all of our hopes! Be one of those who wades through the swamp to wrap arms around the marginalized! Open your ears to the reasons for tears, wiping away the filth and the fears, offering safety where dreams have been crushed and the pleas for rescue have been rudely hushed! Find a way to make peace!
Picture yourself wading through a swamp. You take off your shoes and consider whether you should really do this – the water is muddy, you can’t see what might be lurking beneath the surface, and you’ve never been in this swampland before. Are there water snakes? How deep is it there in the middle?
But you see that others lift their skirts or pantlegs and wade on through, carefully lifting each foot out of the deep slush to take the next step. When you reach the shore, your feet are muddy. It’s time to shake it off and try to rinse your toes in the swamp water . . .
Crossing a swamp is not done without a purpose. You must have a reason to take the risk, and if there is someone on the other side who needs help or comfort, it is worth it.
The women in the photo are wading across because they were allotted land on the other side where they could plant a farm. Any profits they would make would go to help women in need. None of them have extra money, so this effort gives them something to work with. In their culture, widows and the fatherless are often dismissed as unworthy of honor or attention. These hard-working women want to make a difference, to spread love as well as the Good News.
It is interesting that “peace” in Hebrew is the word שָׁל֣וֹם “shalom,” which has a broad scope of meanings, including these: well-being, health, prosperity, peace, peaceful relationship, kindness. In Psalm 34 David is giving instruction to young people and warns them that if they wish to have a good life themselves, they must keep from doing what is wrong or speaking lies, but instead “turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Ps. 34:14 NIV). Respecting the Lord means caring about what matters to him. To be like him, one key thing is to do what restores well-being to the needy. “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Ps. 34:18 NIV) And he specifically blesses the person who does what is right, rescuing him from his troubles – even though he may have many of those (verses 17-19).
This should stimulate us to actually do something to reach out to those who are mistreated by society, or marginalized and neglected.
Jesus underlined this in the Sermon on the Mount, when he said that those who work for peace will be called God’s children (Mat. 5:9, NLT). I self-identify as his daughter; what am I doing to work for the well-being of those who are suffering?