Mark was a skeptical person. He hated being this way but he couldn’t help himself. He had this strange fear that people were not really going to come through for him, that people really didn’t like him, and that they would, in the end, betray him or abandon him. Mark really didn’t know how he got to be this way. Yet, there it was.
Did something happen in his early years? Nothing that he could think of specifically, yet there was this sense that he could never measure up as far as his father was concerned. Whatever he did was just not good enough. Not that his father was overtly mean to him or abusive in any way. In fact, his father conveyed that he was very much interested in what his son was doing and how he was getting on in school, etc. But Mark always had this underlying feeling that his father would have wanted him to be a better student, or a more talented athlete. He knew his father was disappointed when Mark didn’t get into the university that he had gone to.
Needless to say, Mark didn’t have much confidence in himself and he was always questioning everything, especially those things that concerned the faith. When his grandmother died—a person he was really close to—he wanted to believe that she was in heaven. But he wasn’t sure. And then when his classmate was in a really nasty car accident and nearly died, Mark questioned why God would let something like that happen to a really good person.
As a result of all this insecurity and doubt, Mark was never really at “peace” with himself. There always seemed to be that little knot in the stomach, that sense of fear, that feeling that there was some danger lurking around the corner; that whatever good happened in this life would get blown up at some point and that he would lose everything.
When Jesus appears to the Apostles, that first thing he says to them is “Peace be with you.” But when he says this, what kind of peace does he mean? It’s important that we understand this because it can have a profound effect on our lives.
The peace that Jesus speaks of is not the kind of peace where a wand is waved over us by God and all our problems go away. That’s not it at all. It is more about having complete confidence in God and being able to abandon ourselves to Him. It’s knowing that God can and will help us, that with God we can always be certain of victory. When we allow God’s grace to give us this kind of peace—the peace that Christ offers us—we can face struggles with the “absolute certitude that the victory is already won because the Lord is resurrected.
During this Easter season we pray for the “peace of Christ,” and live our lives without that hidden fear that the “bad” is going to win out in the end. We relinquish some of our control and we realize that we are often our own worst enemies.
Here’s a great passage I came across about this very idea. I share it with all those, like myself, who might have some of the characteristics of our friend, Mark:
Often, we cause ourselves to become agitated and disturbed by trying to resolve everything by ourselves, when it would be more efficacious to remain peacefully before the gaze of God and allow Him to act and work in us with His power, which are infinitely superior to ours.
Then there’s this quote from Isaiah: “By waiting and by calm you shall be saved.” (But you would have none of it.)
Isaiah is speaking to all of us, too. We would have none of it!! Why? Because like Thomas, and our friend Mark, we are slow to believe. We’ve been hurt and we are afraid of being hurt again. God is not about hurting us or abandoning us. God is about saving us and bringing us Peace.