Looking for peace in all the wrong places

This morning I was saddened, but not all that surprised to learn of a disturbing trend in our society,

According to a The Washington Post, “A new study published in JAMA Psychiatry this month finds that the rate of alcohol use disorder, or what’s colloquially known as “alcoholism,” rose by a shocking 49 percent in the first decade of the 2000s. One in eight American adults, or 12.7 percent of the U.S. population, now meets diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder, according to the study.”


Even more disturbing, in adults under thirty years of age, the rate climbs to one in four.

Again, Wow.

A lot of us are looking for peace in all the wrong places.

Contrast that with the promise of Scripture, which promises of a peace “that passes all understanding.”

Now, don’t get me wrong.  It’s not always easy.  I don’t suggest that, when faced with life’s very real stressors, all you have to do is pick up your Bible, sit back and relax, and let the peace overflow.

After all, this week’s news has been dominated with stories about thermonuclear war being a real possibility.

I get it.

On the other hand, reaching for relaxation, renewal, respite, – peace – in the form of a a stiff drink ( or a smoke, or a pill, or a snort, or a sniff) – well, it seems that has become way too easy and way too habitual for way too many people.

It also suggests to me that the Church needs to do a much better job of reaching out to those, inside and outside our sanctuary walls, who are struggling to find peace that way.

Let’s start with prayer and with a discerning, open attitude.  Let’s start with compassion rather than self-righteous judgement.  Let’s start with an invitation to come and hear about another way – another Way – named Jesus.

Wouldn’t it be great if one day we could publish a study of our own – one that proclaims an increase in the number of people who find a life of faith is the way to lasting peace?

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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