Scripture: Matthew 8:23-27, 11:28, 29; Romans 5:1-11, 12:9-31; Hebrews 12:14; Colossians 3:13-15.
There is little peace to be found in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. A massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked the country on January 12. Some said the sound of the quake itself was almost deafening. Added to that were the sounds of buildings collapsing and homes being flattened.
When the earth finally stopped shaking and the buildings falling, the noise was replaced by sounds of screaming and crying—sounds of terror and fear. It wasn’t long until those sounds were replaced by wails and groans as Haitians realized that their loved ones were trapped or dead. These were joined by frantic pleas for help from people who were still alive, but unable to free themselves from the rubble.
The quake left an estimated 300,000 displaced Haitians living outdoors. When relief efforts were slow to come, once again there was no peace to be found as police struggled to bring order in the midst of chaos. Hundreds of stone-throwing looters gathered in groups around the city. Gunfire could be heard as police tried to stop young men who hid their faces behind bandannas and roamed the streets with machetes. Near the presidential palace, police used tear gas to scatter looters at street markets.1
But there is at least one place where 100 Haitians have found peace. One man called it an oasis. It is the home of 59-year-old Dr. Claude Surena’s. When the quake flattened nearly all of the houses in his neighborhood, people began showing up on his doorstep. “It was a blessing from God my house was safe,” he said. “We at least have been able to do something for everyone.”2
Surena is able to do “something for everyone” because he turned his two-story house into a makeshift hospital. As a pediatrician, he had treated sick people from his home for years. Now he found himself running a triage center from his shaded, leafy patio. With medical attention, food and supplies retrieved from ruined homes, it’s a far cry from lying on dusty streets in the hot sun, or on the ground outside a clinic. Even those who won’t recover have found here a peaceful place to die. And eighteen have died so far.
As Dr. Surena bandages infected wounds and does the best that he can with the more severe cases, he waits for aid to arrive in the form of supplies and more doctors. He says he is optimistic that help is coming. In the meantime, the patients will stay there because they have no other place to go. Here they feel safe and cared for, and experience a peace those in the city long for. At night they huddle close together and sing hymns, in spite of the fact that the terror of the earthquake still haunts them.
“The fruit of the Spirit is peace….” Is it possible to find peace in a world that seems to go from one disaster to another? Yes it is. Jesus said in the John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” So peace is a gift. It’s not something we can earn or talk ourselves into. It’s something for the taking. But the catch is: we must know the Giver before we experience His gift.
To try and find peace in a troubled world without knowing the Creator of the world is useless. To try to find peace in your troubled life without truly knowing the one who gave His life for you is fruitless. And to try to find peace for your future without knowing Jesus’ plans for an eternity of tranquility is hopeless.
Jesus invites us to, “Come to me…and you will find rest for your souls.” Real inner peace can never be found without finding Jesus first. We need to spend daily time with Him in study and prayer—to keep our minds on Him. For as the wise prophet Isaiah said of God’s gift, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You” (Is. 26:3).
It might take some practice because we’ll be tempted to take things back into our own hands. But we’ll realize that our Savior—the one who saves us—is the One to trust. Since He knows the beginning from the end, He can be trusted.