Shalom is an ancient Hebrew word usually translated “peace.” It certainly means that, but it also means much more. There actually is no English equivalent that approaches the richness and depth shalom. Scholar Cornelius Plantinga put it this way . . .
“The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. We call it peace but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness and delight – a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.”
If our hope is to rid ourselves of the destructive results of our rages, it would be wise to become familiar with this rich, ancient antidote to the mayhem and pain caused by anger.
What would shalom look like in your life–today? Next week? In five years?
In the Hebrew Bible, the presence of shalom was closely tied with the concept of re-creative rest. Taking a Sabbath day to rest, reflect, and realize that we are not God, was critical to maintaining a sense of shalom. How do you structure your life to ensure rest—not just adequate sleep, but space and time set aside specifically for renewal of your soul and self?
The story of Joseph is told in the book of Genesis. He was the youngest of many brothers and his father’s favorite. For that, his brothers hated him “and they could not speak to him peaceably (shalom)” (37:4). In the New Testament, in Paul’s letter to his friends in Rome, he wrote these wise, measured words: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (12:18) We can’t speak shalom, let alone live in shalom if we are harboring resentment or bitterness. Yet, there is often a limit to what we can do to make things right (“…if it is possible, as far as it depends on you…”). With that in mind, what is one, simple, concrete thing you can do TODAY to reach out to someone with whom you are at enmity and seek to create shalom?