The Lord promises us peace that is not the kind of peace that the world can give us. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) Swedenborg explained to angels that “on earth they call it peace when wars and conflicts between nations are over, or enmities and disagreements between individuals, and that they think inner peace is simply the peace of mind we have when anxieties are banished, or especially the relief and delight when things turn out well for us.” (Heaven and Hell 290) In other words, people often think of peace in external terms as something that comes from being in a peaceful situation, a quiet environment or a lack of conflict with other people.
Heaven’s peace, though, has little to do with what is going on around us. If our hearts are turned towards the Lord and our neighbor, then peace actually flows in from the Lord into our very core, and from that core comes down and spreads into their outward mind, causing peace of mind, relief of the spirit, and a consequent joy.
The “peace that the world gives” is quite different, since it does not come from within, from the Lord, but from outside us. When people care more for their own power, possessions, and pleasure than for the Lord and other people, there is no genuine peace. “There is an apparent calm, tranquility, and pleasure when they get their way, but this is outward only, with no inward substance. Inside there is raging hostility, hatred, vengefulness, cruelty, and all kinds of evil cravings. Their spirits rush into these feelings the moment they see anyone who is not on their side, and it bursts forth whenever there is no fear [to restrain it].” (Heaven and Hell 290)
Recently we have seen examples of that buried “raging hostility, hatred, vengefulness, and cruelty” breaking out and destroying the fragile peace that the world gives. We might wonder, How can we have peace of mind when all hell is breaking loose in this world? Yet the Lord’s peace is not destroyed by outward conflict. The Lord says, “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.” (Luke 6:22-23)
One of the reasons the Lord allows wars and conflict around us is so that we can turn to Him to see the peace that comes from within. “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)