John 16:22, NIV
“Jesus promised, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.””
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian, spoke out against Hitler’s dictatorship, his euthanasia programme and the Jewish holocaust. At the end of 1944 he was in the main prison of the Gestapo condemned to death by Adolf Hitler. It was while he was in circumstances beyond anything any of us have ever experienced that he wrote these words in a prayer to God, ‘I want to live these days with You’.
Bonhoeffer was finally transferred to the concentration camp Flossenburg, where he was put to death, four months before the US army liberated Flossenburg. Bonhoeffer is now famous for a book he wrote called ‘The Cost of Discipleship’.
Recently his words ‘I want to live these days with You’, came to my mind. The words have since become my daily prayer, “I want to live this day with you, whatever it may hold.” The words are the title of a daily reading book containing Bonhoeffer’s writings which I read several years ago and have picked up again. Shortly before he died he wrote to a friend, ‘Only the suffering God can help’. His eyes were fixed on that suffering God, his faith firmly rooted despite the horrors he faced.
For each of us, at some time or other, there is suffering on the path of life. We have our times of sunshine and of shadow; times of joy and of sorrow; times of turmoil and of rest; times of strength and of weakness; times of fulfilment and times of being set aside; times when we long for God’s presence and times when He’s closer than the closest friend. None of us will escape the times when, above all else, we need the comfort and abiding peace of the suffering God who comes alongside with His presence and His grace.
Living each day with our Lord is the way to inner stillness and peace of heart and mind. It is to rest in the peace Jesus promised to His disciples. Peace independent of circumstances; peace dependent upon the fulfilment of His promise. So if the road you’re travelling just now is rough, don’t give up. Remember you are not alone because He has promised He will never leave you nor forsake you. The rough road will come to an end and the lessons learned on it can become a way of life for the future.
It’s easy to look at the circumstances and difficulties we’re caught up in and see them as overwhelming. What God asks is that we look at Jesus, surrendering to Him and praying for His perfect will to be fulfilled, whatever that may be, and even if it’s not what we would choose. We’re not victims of our circumstances, but children of a compassionate Father, whose love is infinite and unfailing.
It’s futile to want our way instead of surrendering to His perfect plan. When we trust God to do what He chooses, rather than try to work things out ourselves, inner turmoil is replaced by the stillness of knowing that He’s God and we’re safe with Him. We desperately need Him.
To live each day with Jesus is to live a day at at time. His name is ‘I am’. It’s not ‘I was’ or ‘I will be’. We have the promise of His presence; the presence of our Saviour, Lord and King, who is also our best and heavenly Friend. Thus we receive the gift of peace and peace, a fruit of the Spirit, which is worked in and through us – a deep abiding peace.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, please teach me to live each day with You, trusting You with all the days that will follow, whatever they may hold. Thank You for the peace Jesus promised – the peace which banishes fear. I receive that peace as a gift today, thanking You for Jesus, who’s made the way possible for me to know You intimately. Thank You that I’m not a victim of circumstances, but I’m secure in You. Amen.