Shalom has a breadth of meaning – wider than I’d ever realised.
My colleague was posing this question: “If we used ‘Shalom’ as a model to pray for the children in our communities – what difference could it make?”
Not using it as a mantra, but as a prayer that touches every part of our lives – with Christ at the centre.
What would it mean to pray the real meaning of ‘Shalom’ over our children on a regular basis?
Shalom doesn’t only mean ‘peace’. It also means:
harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility. It is a word that covers every aspect of our hearts, minds and souls, as well as our physical being.
Some of these words often carry a meaning that is uncomfortable in the world of additional needs, mainly because of their misuse. So let me take you through them using some of what they should mean.
Peace: The meaning of this includes loving your enemy. What would it mean to our children if we modelled this as well as talked about it? Loving those who make inappropriate, unthinking or just downright un-theological comments about our children or us in light of our disabilities and additional needs. I might write more about this one in a future blog – just because it’s a biggie!
Harmony: The main area this covers is wisdom. Following the wisdom of God for your life or situations, and therefore bringing true harmony between you and God. I’m not talking about the man made rules we are expected to follow.Think about the book of Proverbs – These are not rules to follow, but God based wisdom. But it’s not just Proverbs that contains this – much of the Bible contains wisdom about life, love, worry…. and peace.
We are talking about ‘spiritual’ harmony.
This doesn’t mean an end to the chaos of home and family, but rather a sense of peace within it. Again – this is a blog in its own right, as sometimes, understandably, anger about a situation can be a harmony breaker. But it’s good to know that someone is praying for us to find harmony in those situations.
Wholeness: This is restoration – a re-instatement of what should be. There are some in the world of health, wealth and happiness who say this would cover healing. But no – look at it from the perspective of “What would God declare for our children?” What would God declare for us?
This does cover spiritual wholeness, but it’s much bigger than even that.
Think back in history to the football clubs – many of the top clubs today were set up by churches who wanted young men to have more than the pub to go to. Many would leave work with their wages and spend it in the pub, leaving their family with not enough to live on. Setting up football clubs stopped this happening. The churches saw a need and met it – looking at the whole person and not just one part. It was a re-instatement of what should be.
What would this look like for our children? A safer world? A world full of care and tenderness? A world where there is acceptance and understanding? What would a modern version of the church football club be? Looking wider than ourselves, it could be creating space for adults with learning disabilities to learn a trade and earn money, therefore building self worth and independence.
Completeness: This is often seen as status – the biggest cause of stress in the world today. You have to BE ‘somebody’, have achieved ‘something’. To be complete you have to do or have something. It’s no longer acceptable to be who you are. As you read the Gospels, you will quickly see that Jesus was no respecter of status. Simply put, completeness is found in Jesus and then in the acceptance of who we are – with or without additional needs and disabilities. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to do well or achieve. We just need to remember that is isn’t where our status or completeness lies – and within that truth there is peace.
Prosperity: This is not about being rich, it’s about having enough to improve life.
Look at the parks in your area – what is their history? More than likely they were put there by Christian philanthropists who wanted to make life better for those who had no other opportunity to see beauty. They believed that in seeing beauty, their lives would be enriched.
One of my colleagues uses the made up word ‘enoughness’. In this context, prosperity is ‘enoughness’, but also those beautiful things that can bring about something wonderful to bless us – a cup of coffee made for us, a sunset glimpsed out of a bedroom window. A hug from a friend.
Welfare: Quite simply, this is responding to need. So in saying shalom we are stating that we hope all their needs will be met. Not wants as such, but needs.
Tranquility: Security in the key aspects of life…Yes, I think that could make me quite tranquil!
When we think of mental wellbeing, a lot is based in security – especially being secure in our relationships.
Serenity could be another word for this.
The Full Meaning of Shalom
All seven of these meanings of ‘Shalom’, when put together represent modelling and speaking out the whole life of God – all of that in one word! My colleague says that any one of these could be a glimpse of heaven for a child.
I pray Shalom for you today, I pray it for the children we care for.
A glimpse of heaven in a busy world.