Searching For Peace

Denisovich – by Leanne Rutter

I’ve been reading The Second World War (Antony Beaver) and been astounded at the magnitude of the suffering and hardship of the people that were caught up the the conflict. I had never known how unspeakably evil the likes of Hitler, Stalin and the leaders of the Imperial Army of Japan were until reading the details of their atrocities. It kind of shakes my faith in human decency to realize that these evil few were able to perpetrate the murder of millions with good propaganda and artful manipulation of people that all knew better. It’s not exactly light reading, so I took a break by reading an inspiring work by a man that lived through these horrors and came through with his faith intact.

Fifty years ago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn published One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, and let the light of day shine on the injustices of the Soviet GULAG (here for a related post). This book was almost impossible for me to put down and it still has me thinking. In the final minutes of his day, Ivan Denisovich chats with his bunkmate, Alyosha the Baptist. In a world of injustice and suffering, Alyosha was the one man in the camp that was at peace; his faith in Christ gave him hope for the world to come. Even though Alyosha’s faith, hope and love were evident, his life remained hard–Ivan Denisovich thought it even harder than the other ‘zeks’. Yet Ivan Denisovich concluded: “His voice and his eyes left no doubt that he was happy in prison.” He may have been the only one.

It is sobering to realize that though we view Jesus Christ as the Prince of Peace, he warned his disciples that they would have tribulation in this life. 

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34)

 Yet Christ’s message promised peace because he had overcome the world and his followers had hope to enter into his rest in eternity.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33)

Moroni referred to men like Alyosha as “peaceable followers of Christ” (Moroni 7:3). Though his world gave him more than his share of the tribulation that Christ promised, he was still at peace within.  Alyosha’s faith, hope and charity allowed him to overcome the trials and disappointments of his world (Moroni 10:20-23).

One of my favorite hymns is Where Can I Turn For Peace (Hymns, 129; lyrics by Emma Lou Thayne; music by Joleen G. Meredith; here and here to hear it). 

Where can I turn for peace,
Where is my solace ,
When other sources cease to make me whole.
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart, 
Searching my soul
Where, when my aching grows,
Where when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand
He, only One.
He answers privately,
Reaches my reaching,
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend
Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind
Love without end

Though peace often seems elusive, we are so blessed to know that through Christ it remains within our grasp. We need not look far to see those that have found it.
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