Today’s encouraging word is peacefulness.
Merriam-Webster defines peacefulness as: “a state of tranquility or quiet; freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions; harmony in personal relations.”¹
I have been really feeling the need for peacefulness this week. Most of the time, I can keep in mind that life is still quite good, our family is doing as well as possible, and better days will come. But as I write this, the rain continues to pour for yet another day. The slower and quieter pace that I readily embraced at first is now beginning to feel monotonous. Most of all, some concerns for my family- especially for my mom- increase with each passing day.
Usually I am able to handle the stress of these days with optimism and serenity. But occasionally, unexpectedly, a surge of anxiety washes over me. I am surprised to feel an edginess on my skin at random times during the day, or I awaken in the night and wonder why I suddenly feel uneasy.
I needed to revisit Julian of Norwich, a spiritual saint I encountered in a Spiritual Foundations class years ago. Julian heard God say to her, ““All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” These words have come to mind and comforted me often in recent days. Interestingly, I had forgotten that she actually lived through the Black Plague that killed much of England’s population back in the 1300s. During this uncertain and frightening time, she became an “anchoress” who remained in a one room living space attached to a church, and spent her days praying, contemplating, and providing guidance for people from her small window.
Julian deepened in her closeness with God and found contentment, joy and peace while being cloistered in this one small room. Isn’t this difficult to fathom? But her vision exceeded far beyond the walls in which she was confined. In her writings of the spiritual visions or “showings” she experienced, these words especially bless me today:
“As the body is clad in clothes, and the flesh in the skin, and the bones in the flesh, and the heart in the whole, so we are clothed, body and soul, in the goodness of God and enfolded in it.”²
Julian may have lived in a spare and tiny room without much variety to her days, but in that place she experienced being enfolded in the goodness of God. This image helps to bring my peace. No matter where or how long we may be sequestered, no matter how little we may be able to do, no matter how the fears may continue to swirl around us, we can find our kindred spirit in Julian. She experienced all this to a much greater extent, and yet felt the incredible love of God embracing her, telling her, “All shall be well…”
At this very moment we are being embraced- gently enfolded- in the incredible goodness of God. We are being lovingly held in the embrace of One who loves us infinitely. Can you feel yourself nestling in and finding comfort? Can you sense the peacefulness of God in the following ways?
~ a state of tranquility or quiet
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, Lord,
make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8 (NIV)
~ freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
~ harmony in personal relations
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15 (NIV)
My prayer for all of us this day comes from Paul’s words to the Philippians.
(May) the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, …guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
“And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazel nut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, ‘What may this be?’ And it was answered generally thus, ‘It is all that is made.’ I marveled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God.
In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it. The second that God loves it. And the third, that God keeps it.”
― Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love
²Foster, R.J., & Beebe, G.D. (2009). Longing for God- Seven Paths of Christian Devotion. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Bible verses taken from https://www.biblegateway.com/
Photo by Karen 🙂 in Hurricane WV