Do you ever catch yourself thinking, "Ugh, if only I'd get that loan paid off, then things would be so much better." Or, "Man, if only I'd win the lottery, my stress would be so much less.” Or (my personal favorite), “If only I'd get better, then everything would be great."
"If only I'd get that promotion..."
"If only my Dad would move back in..."
"If only God would get me out of this mess..."
It never quite works, does it, even when that "if only" is fulfilled, because there is one if-then statement we can actually count on holding true: IF it's not one thing, THEN it's another. That's life for everyone, Christian or not. It's true. Going to church won't to get you any better odds in the Powerball.
So why bother going? ...the world would ask. True peace is something the world doesn't understand. True peace sustains us while we're dying of the cancer God didn't cure, and it comforts us while we weep over the grave of our child whom God let die. True peace is what we strive to find while suffering with pain day after day after day when we know we are never going to get better. We have to know--I have to know--that True Peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding exists even when the pain doesn't go away, that it is a gift given to us by God, won for us by Christ, or we (I) will simply go mad. True peace doesn't come from a cure. Anyone who's beaten cancer once, or more than once, will tell us that. And true peace doesn't come from that one bad thing being taken off our backs or from finally getting what we think we want or even need.
If happiness depends on all our "if onlies" being met at the right time, no one would ever be happy. In our baptism, the Holy Spirit gave us a beautiful child-like faith that--while not left untested--is able to withstand anything the world can throw at us in its attempt to make life unbearable, including death.
Through Word and Sacrament, we are renewed day after day after day with that gift of True Peace that surpasses all understanding. Don't miss the forest for the trees. With our precarious view of the good in spite of the bad, pray each day for the Holy Spirit to grant you a mustard seed of faith that truly will move mountains. Thank God for the ability to believe the impossible, and for the peace that allowed a beautiful woman to die with neither a troubled heart nor fear of any kind despite the hard life she had to live. (We love you, Grandma).
Suggested verse to repeat if it's a difficult day is derived from Philippians 4:7
PRC buddies, remember to breathe!
"The peace of God -------> 5 count inhale
will guard your hearts.” -------> 5 count exhale