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NIV is used unless otherwise noted.

P.E.A.C.E: Comfort

For this is what the LORD says: “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you—”
Isaiah 66:12

 Our P.E.A.C.E. acrostic expands: to Presence, Encouragement, and Abundance, add Comfort.

Today I wish to infect you with a song, as I have been. The initial word picture of peace that popped into my head, from the moment I decided to break its components down, was the first line of Horatio Gates Spafford’s great hymn, It is Well With My Soul: “When peace, like a river, attendeth my way.” Now I cannot let it go. It is with me in my quiet times, on my bike, along the walking trail, today the beach, in the shower, waiting in traffic, cleaning my house.

Yes, I know the story: H. G. Spafford’s four daughters drowned in the wreck of the Ville de Havre on their way to Britain, his wife Anna surviving. As he travelled across the Atlantic to join her, over the spot of the wreck he poured out his sorrow in the words to this powerful hymn. From God’s Word, comfort and obviously peace reached his soul.

I have had to ponder the concept of peace like a river. Rivers, to me, are not necessarily peaceful. Sure you can float lazily down some, trailing your paddle behind. But hike beside the churning rivers in the Rockies, or shoot their white water rapids in a raft if you’re up for a bit of adventure. So why did God promise peace like a river to Israel way back when?       

While the Hebrew word for river could refer to anything from a stream to the mighty Nile or Euphrates, its primitive root has some fascinating connotations: to sparkle, as in the sheen on a running stream; or to lighten. So let’s say it is a stream, tumbling gently over the rocky parts of our lives, comforting, peaceful, lightening our loads.

However, we can’t negate the importance of the Nile. At one time, 99% of Egypt lived along its banks. Its cyclical flooding nourished the soil so the crops could survive the dry seasons. Deserts are difficult to farm. Israel too was quite barren and basically had to develop major irrigation systems to feed its people. Rivers provided nourishment and life.

From the peace of streams and the nourishment of flooding rivers of Isaiah 66:12, God quickly takes us to the comfort of mothers. It is easy to see how Spafford made his transition to comfort: Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to know, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”

So may peace like a river comfort you as it did H.G.Spafford. And may you be infected with all the verses of this hymn as I am. Drag out your old hymnal or google it now. Allow it to permeate the folds of your soul.   

Nancy P

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