In our churches we often pray “for peace in the world,” seemingly, however, to no avail.  History reveals that, with the exception of agriculture, no pursuit has occupied  people more than war.  Many Americans living today have witnessed their country at war for over half of their lives.  The seeming uselessness of praying for peace in the world surely tests our faith in the power of prayer.  C.S. Lewis noted: “Every war is a monument to an unanswered prayer.”  The temptation can arise to give up praying for peace.

The fact that not every prayer is answered is dramatically illustrated in Matthew’s gospel.  (26: 38-40) In Gethsemane the holiest of petitioners prayed three times. “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by.”  It did not.  Every prayer of petition should end as that prayer did.  “Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.”

Then there is that other prayer for peace that often seems to go unanswered, the prayer for peace in our hearts.  Lack of that peace can be discouraging.  The source of the discouragement we often experience is twofold.  First, as we look to our past, we recall mistakes, failures, and memories of sin.   A second source of discouragement is looking to an uncertain future.  That future may hold little or no significant prospect of security, success or happiness.

Unless an antidote is found, discouragement can lead to pessimism, even to some degree of despair.  For the person of faith, the antidote consists in looking to Christ for an answer.

We can learn much from looking at Christ on his way to Calvary. Remember that Jesus fell at least three times.  When he fell it meant his strength was giving out, the burden seemed more than he could bear.  On the road to Calvary, Christ is a model for us when we feel flattened and helpless.  It is then that we can learn to trust, no longer in our own power, but in the power of God.  In our helplessness we can learn humility.  We learn to recognize our limits and God’s goodness.  We can also learn compassion, the need for faith, for hope, and for perseverance,

If we can learn these lessons we will find peace, a peace only God can give.  Apart from that peace all happiness is ephemeral, subject to doubt, to fear, or simply to exhaustion.  It is primarily through Christ that we can come to know peace, even joy in this valley of tears.