When you hear the phrase “dividing wall” what comes to mind? The first thing I think of is the Berlin wall. The wall fell 23 years ago, on November 9, 1989. I was eight years old, and I remember watching it on the news. I was too young to understand what was going on, but I knew that something important was happening. I also think of my visit to the Great Wall of China and the uneven stairs that tired me out so quickly. Maybe you think of the barriers that are scattered along the border between the United States and Mexico or the dividing wall between Israel and Palestine. Perhaps you think of India’s Caste System or the cliques in school that develop at such a young age.
Our world is full of barriers and walls that divide locations and people. The Apostle Paul writes about just such a wall in the book of Ephesians. In chapter two Paul reminds us of the wall that separated the Jews from the Gentiles. He tells the Gentiles in Ephesus to “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12, ESV).” That just may be the biggest, most important dividing wall in all of history. The Gentiles were separated from Christ and they had absolutely no hope whatsoever. They didn’t even have hope of having hope. They were beyond hopeless.
What does this unity bring? It brings us peace. Verse 17 says that “…he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.” The world is searching for peace. It seems to be that slippery something that all too often eludes individuals, people groups, and nations. However, those of us who are united in Christ can be at peace with ourselves and with each other. We are no longer people with no peace and no hope. The peace Paul writes of is “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is[i].”
As we all know, living with chronic illnesses (or taking care of someone with a chronic illness) is incredibly difficult. We often lose sight of hope and struggle to find peace and be content with our earthly lot. These verses are an encouragement to us because in Christ we have hope and we can find peace, not just within ourselves but with others. All of us have experienced a lack of peace between us and someone we love (and even random strangers) when it comes to dealing with our illness. The truth is, not everyone understands what it is like to be sick all of the time. They don’t understand why we have to cancel on them or why we can’t do certain things, and we don’t understand why they don’t understand! Even if they do understand, many people don’t know how to deal with sickness. They are awkward and uncomfortable and, in turn, so are we. Some days it seems as if there is no hope of things ever being “normal” again.
So where do we find hope? How can we feel peace and be at peace with others? We don’t have to find it on our own. God’s Word tells us that, “For through Him [Christ] we both [Jew and Gentile] have access in one Spirit to the Father (Ephesians 2:18, ESV).” We can ask God to help us; after all He sent His Son to break down the dividing wall of hostility so that we can have hope and peace! When you’re tired and you don’t know what to ask God or how, know that the Holy Spirit is there to help you out.
Will you choose hope and peace today? If you know Jesus, it’s yours for the taking!
“But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” –Romans 8:25-27, ESV
©November 14, 2012