The sweetest peace comes at the most unexpected times… do you know what I mean? Have you experienced the sweetest peace in the midst of tenderest joy? Have you experienced the sweetest peace in the midst of anguishing sorrow? Have you experienced the sweetest peace in the midst of heart wrenching loss?
The sweetest peace that washes over you now when you reflect on some past experience… the sweetest peace that carries you through the hardest places you’ve ever traveled… this is the peace that passes understanding. I think this is the peace that Kara wrote about in her book: The Hardest Peace; I believe it is the peace she now sees Face to face, face to Face — His to hers, hers to His: the sweetest peace. The certain presence of the Lord and the reality of heaven.
My husband brought me her book, The Hardest Peace, when he came home from from a brief mission’s trip to Korea last fall. I didn’t know how much at the time I needed the reaffirmations of that book–how much I needed to seek and find peace in the midst of what Kara simply called, hard.
I kept wanting to fill in the rest of the sentences that read: take a look at the hard. Or, disappointed by the hard. Meeting Jesus in the hard. As I read, I kept wanting to fill in the sentences that seemed uncomfortably lopped off. And then I began to understand. From the title and subtitle of the book, “The Hardest Peace, finding grace in the midst of life’s hard” to the end of the book — and now to the end of her story, I finally understand. I finally get it, the why behind the writing style — the why behind the poetic style. Everyone’s “hardest peace” or “hard” or “life’s hard” is different. And, while she wrote openly about the different ‘hard places’ of her life from the disappointments to the ravages of cancer, there is much room for each reader’s personal application – each person’s hard or hardest peace is represented in her candid and poetic writing.
It might not be a wayward child, or financial loss, or disease — it may be a disappointment completely different than those three examples. But it’s still hard. Some harder than others. But the resulting peace or the inspired peace will be similar. It will be that point where the Lord sees and meets you. The place where His peace is sufficient and “life’s hard” will be filled with, covered over by, and carried by: grace. Clinging to the hand I cannot see, held by the grip that will not let me go.
I cannot count the times I’ve gone through a trial and, because of the grace of God in previous trials, I’ve recognized His unmistakable signature. More remarkable is when this recognition comes in the midst of the testing of faith. In such times I often think: I’m going to need this… I’m going to need everything I’m experiencing or learning in this trial. All this understanding doesn’t necessarily make the trial easier – sometimes not at all – but it causes real attention to be given to seeking the Lord, to pray, to wait and to study the trial. In these times as I specifically watch for God’s hand to move—I watch for His direction and I’m comforted by His presence.
In this sweetest peace, I’m more prone to praise Him and recount His wonderful works. I’m more prone to trust as I wait. I’m more prone to look for Jesus in the midst of the trial and connect the experience to promises in His Word. In this sweetest peace I’m less likely to give into fear and more resolute to wait on Him.
Sometimes the standing still is hard. I want to act. I want to react. But I find the sweetest peace sometimes comes in the waiting — that peace that passes understanding. I long for that sweetest peace. What I long for is that still small voice. After the strong wind, after the earthquake, after the fire: that still small voice of the Lord. That still small voice that brings the sweetest peace.
Kara knows as she is known… and I’m so grateful to have had but a small glimpse of her remarkable journey in that hardest peace.