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Peace prevails in the midst of disaster

When my submarine was at sea we ran drills.

We practiced what we would do if someone fell overboard, we had a fire or water started coming into the people space. We practiced all the time, and I’m so grateful because disasters happen. For example, we had four different fires on the submarines that I served on, and all that practice paid off. I still remember the smell of smoke, the sound of the alarm, the sight of masked people running all over the place and the sweet sound of fire extinguishers.

But in the midst of all of that, peace prevailed. Not because what was going on was pleasant, but because we had practiced it so many times. We knew what we were doing so we would put out the fire and fix the ship. It was going to be OK. That’s exactly what happened. Peace prevailed in the midst of disaster.

But it doesn’t always. Sometimes people tell us that everything is going to be OK and it doesn’t work out well for a variety of reasons. They may tell you it’ll be OK so that you’ll stay calm. They may tell it’ll be OK because they don’t know better. In either case, I call that peace faking, and it has devastating consequences. We lose our ability to trust people and institutions, and we lose hope. It’s devastating, and it is so prevalent today. We lose hope in our political leaders, our spouses and even our religious leaders.

Don’t be a peace faker. Jesus came so that peace can prevail in the midst of disaster. So that we can know real peace. A peace that transcends disaster. Listen to Jesus speak to his disciples. They’re struggling with disaster. Jesus has been warning them that he must die and now he tells them that they’re going to be scattered. Their world is coming apart. Then in John 16:33 he says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Tribulation and disaster is real. We will all experience it. But the peace that Jesus offers us is real as well, and they’re meant to coexist. The peace that Jesus gives us prevails in the midst of disaster. Here’s how. Jesus goes to the cross, where he dies for your sins and mine. He rises on the third day so that we know that sin, death and the devil have been defeated. So that every time we confess our sins we rise to new life. Every day we celebrate our new life in Christ.

We’re well practiced so that when disaster strikes we know it’s going to be OK. We’re good at giving things to Jesus, and he said, “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Peace prevails in the midst of disaster.

REV. MATTHEW SORENSON is the pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church. He can be reached at pastor@stjohnsfarmville.org.