Pastoral Care, Chapter 9: Serenity is Possible – Part 1

John Greenleaf Whittier wrote in his poem The Eternal Goodness
“Within the maddening maze of things
And tossed by storm and flood
To one fixed trust my spirit clings,
I know that God is good.”

Within the maddening maze of things, when your world seems to be turned upside down; when people and things around you seems to be unsettled, where do you turn? Is there some place you can go; someone to whom you can turn to find peace of mind and a serenity of spirit?

I believe it is possible to find such a spirit; but I also know you have to look to the right one in the right place to find it. Contrary to where many look to find serenity in life, it is not something you can find in an escape from the world chemically, physically, or any other way you may try. It is not something you can buy, nor regardless of how hard you may try can you make it happen either for you or for anyone else.

Serenity is not an end in itself. Serenity is rather a byproduct of a certain kind of relationship; and a way of living as a result of that relationship. We can look to Jesus as a model of such a life. Jesus had to come to the time in His life when the tide of public opinion had turned against Him. The Pharisees and other antagonists were actively pursuing a way to trap Him so they could call for His death. The crowds which once had been in the thousands had dwindled to the point that one day Jesus turned to His disciples and asked, “Will you also go away?”

In spite of this, Jesus would not turn back, nor turn away from the increasing turmoil. He was determined to go to Jerusalem even though His disciples tried to discourage Him. They knew, as he did, that each step in that direction led Him that much closer to His death and the end of His earthly ministry.

The inner struggle to be faithful to why He had come into the world and this outer strain of His antagonists pressing in on Him had taken its toll on His strength. It could be seen in His face by those closest to Him. What could He do? As Jesus had done before every major challenge or event in his life, Jesus withdrew from the struggle to pray. As He was praying, His disciples observed that something had changed about Him. There was now a radiance about his face. Jesus had connected once again to find the inner resources of the relationship with the Father to face the external conflict which surrounded Him.

Finally, in Jerusalem Jesus would meet the intensity of the feelings which had been stirred up against Him. Jesus knew the disciples were also disturbed. So He gathered them together and gave them and us these memorable words, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God. Believe in me …”

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