When Jodie Foster accepted an award at the 2013 Golden Globes, she confessed: “I want to be seen, to be understood deeply, and to be not so very lonely.” Her words echo Jim Carrey, another successful American actor, who once said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of, so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
We are tempted to put our hope in the false gods of money, sex, power, and fame to satisfy our longings. But as these members of the Hollywood elite remind us, counterfeit gods never deliver on their promises. Through the Holy Spirit, we are promised peace, and it’s a peace that we can count on. As we’ve seen, this peace is vertical (peace with God) as well as horizontal (peace with others). Additionally, the peace of Jesus Christ is internal, and perhaps no better Scripture describes this placid state of the soul than Psalm 23.
Inner spiritual peace is derived from the presence of God. This psalm alludes to peaceful scenes (green pastures, quiet waters, right paths), and we would expect to enjoy peace in these places. But the psalm also includes more foreboding, anxiety-inducing elements (darkest valley, enemies). It’s there we feel most afraid and disquieted. Only when we recognize that the Lord is present with us in every scene and every chapter can we have an abiding peace that does not depend on circumstantial ease or comfort.
We come to experience greater inner peace as our capacity enlarges for imagining God, in all of His goodness and greatness. Though we are small and weak, made vulnerable by all of our frailties (sheep never were animals to be admired), God loves us still and is committed to us.