relief – or peace?


Originally uploaded by jon.swanson

Andrew bought a new camera recently, a camera which moves him from picture-taker to photographer. Not that the technology suddenly increases competence, but because the camera gives him options…and forces him to make choices. Once he turns of the automatic mode, he must choose focus and light and speed and must consider how those interact with the subject. Add filters and lenses and suddenly there are no simple answers. However, there are powerful images. And Andrew has an eye for composition.

This sense of options came to mind tonight while Nancy and I were walking and talking about a particular situation. She talked about there being a sense of peace if someone took a particular step. As I thought, I realized that what actually would be present would be a sense of relief, which is–or can be–much different than a sense of peace.

Think of it this way: when you are taking care of a sick child, sometimes you feel like walking away. That may bring relief, but it would bring no peace. In fact, it may end up making the situation worse.

But, some of you are saying, nice linguist shift, but what does are you meaning by those words, Jon?

Relief is removal of the immediate pressure or pain. Peace is awareness that this is the right place to be, the right thing to do. Some medications give a relief from the symptoms but make no claim to heal the problem.

Sometimes peace, the right thing to do, may cause even more pressure and pain. For example, peacemaking can be, in the short term, incredibly painful. If the right thing is to maintain my marriage, my friendships, to raise our children, to follow lost sheep, I may end up losing sleep. I may end up having to work on myself.

In the fullness of time, however, this road may give both relief AND peace.

But does this make sense? Are there real differences? Or is it just a matter of focus?


3 responses to “relief – or peace?

  1. Two more thoughts:

    1. Sometimes relief is doing something when peace would come through not doing, especially for those of us addicted to activity. “Be still and know that I am God”.

    2. Who are you trying to please or appease?

  2. You are right to make the distinction. Without it, it does not make sense when someone recounts a horrible experience–a death, a debilitating medical condition, dealing with a prodigal, injustice on the job–and claims that they had an overwhelming peace in the the midst of it.

    There are times God grants peace as a gift–as in the above, when it is not logical for it to be there and we have done nothing to bring it about…other than having our hearts in the rightness of freefall into God’s love and provision. And then, it seems that there are times peace comes through obedience–doing the right thing, as you say. But…ultimately, I guess those two end up being the same, don’t they? Just an extra step thrown in, according to our need at the time, but always the result coming from the same Source.

  3. ‘Peace is the awareness that this is the right place to be.’ That’s good. The right place to be is in the hands of our loving and gracious heavenly Father. Sometimes I do the wrong thing, make the wrong choice, and end up in the wrong place from all human perspectives. But I’m still in the hands of God. No bad choice, unfortunate circumstance, or even sin can seperate me from the love of God.