Peace is more than the absence of conflict—it is the presence of well-being in the midst of conflict.
In the midst of the troubling account of David’s adultery, King David brings Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, home from the battlefront and asks him a bizarre question (though you’d never see its strangeness in most English translations):
“When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab was doing and how the people were doing and how the war was going.” (2 Samuel 11:7, ESV)
When you look at the sentence in Hebrew, it’s strikingly peculiar because David actually uses the Hebrew word for peace, “shalom,” three times in his question.
Literally, verse 7 reads: “David asked about the shalom of Joab, the shalom of the people and the shalom of the war.”
David wanted to know about the “peace of the war.”
Most of us don’t like conflict. It’s unsettling. It feels stressful. We don’t want the “drama.” But the absence of conflict does not make for peace. A married couple might show no outward conflict while harboring inward resentment. When the Philistine giant Goliath taunted the Israeli soldiers day after day, Hebrew warriors fought no battle, but had no peace. Refusing to face a problem isn’t peace. And glossing over a problem doesn’t make it go away. Jeremiah prophesied about the superficiality of leaders who “have healed the wound of my people lightly saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:13-14, ESV)
Shalom means “complete” and “healthy” and “prosperous.”
God didn’t say “Peace, peace” when there was no peace. He came into the conflict, faced the devil directly, took our sins upon Himself, bore the battle in His own flesh, and made a spectacle of the enemy through the triumph of the resurrection. He came and loved and sacrificed and conquered so that we could be restored to right relationship with Him and others—so we could be at peace.
If life is tough and you’re facing some serious conflicts, it doesn’t mean you’re relegated to a season of no peace. You can have peace in your war. And that’s the Gospel!