“Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.”
Amazing Grace by John Newton, Verse 5
In this verse of Amazing Grace that is seldom sung, Newton talks about possessing peace “within the veil.” That is an interesting idiom of the word “veil” that we do not use now. A veil conceals identity as when women sometimes wear a veil coming in to the wedding ceremony or often we associate it with women who follow Islam and the veil conceals their identity and speaks of humility. The face that is veiled in the hymn is the face of death. Not only does Newton believe he will not see the face of death, he also adds that he will possess peace.
As Jesus left the Upper Room and Last Supper and headed to the Garden of Gethsemane, he talked with his followers. Jesus knew what was ahead with the horror of the crucifixion and all that would entail, not to mention the persecution that would eventually characterize the lives of early Christians. Many would face death in the arena and other tortuous ways. Jesus promises them peace in the “veil of death.”
“27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:7)”
In the more modern Message it reads like this,
“25-27 “I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.”
As our family accompanies my husband with Parkinson’s disease we often comfort each other by commenting that he does not seem to be suffering. His faith is supporting him through this journey. Jesus is alive and risen and walking with him through the veil when flesh and heart shall fail. He is not alone even though we do not see God’s presence, we feel it.
Faith speaks to the belief in the presence of God when all else fails and that is comforting. I believe our presence as friends when another is struggling, brings peace. Let’s thank God today for his presence and for the privilege of being present for others. We can be bringers of peace.
Thank you Lord.