God's Promise of Peace
What would your definition of peace be? Would it be watching the sunrise over pristine lake waters with birds singing sweet melodies as the sun comes up? Would it be an end to that family feud and finally everyone getting along? Or maybe the end of wars and hate and crimes done to the most innocent? If you could paint that "oh so perfect" picture of peace in your life, what would it look like?
God's peace and the world's peace are not one in the same. Peace by worldly standards would be the absence of conflict. On the other hand, peace from God would be the calm we receive because we trust in Him through it all. The Biblical definition of peace is "a state of calm, freedom from strife or discord, harmony in personal relationships." Notice the Biblical definition says freedom from not absent of.
If only we could be without conflict or trouble our entire lives. Wouldn't that be nice. Although, someday God's people will get to experience this kind of living, our reality on this earth is turbulence. We will have arguments over parking spots and quarrels with siblings. And those are on a good day. We will have plagues and political uncertainty. We will have sickness and the loss of our most precious loved ones. We will have infidelity and marital troubles. We will have stress at work that doesn't stay there at the end of the day.
So if we get to deal with situations like this every day, how then do we ever find real soul-reaching, mind-calming undeniable peace?
Believe to Receive
Paul tells us in Romans 5:1 exactly how. He writes, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand." Jesus is our access to the soul-reaching peace we all long for. In other words, when we make peace with God and have faith in Him, we will experience the peace that only comes with belief in Jesus. It only makes sense that we can't experience the peace that Jesus offers us if we do not have a relationship with Him. Just like the saying, "know God know peace, no God no peace."
The Bible doesn't keep this a secret. Jesus does try to plainly tell us we all will experience peace-robbing problems on the daily. Thankfully He is more powerful than our problems.
Pray For What You Need
We can't keep all those problems tucked inside. Whether big or small God wants to know them. James gives us a great example of this in 5:8. He says, "Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise." So whether big or small, joyful or stressed, prayer is our answer. How can God be working on our behalf if we don't release our problems to Him? Tell Him your troubles. Just getting them off of your chest may be the start of calmness. One of the most helpful things I have learned is to be proactive in prayer, not reactive. Don't wait until everything is falling apart. Give it to God before you have reached your breaking point. Freedom comes with the release of your worries and with freedom comes peace. Turn those problems into prayers.
Be Aware of Your Thoughts
Where do you focus your thoughts? Sometimes my mind is like a hamster wheel running the same stressful situation over and over in my head. I literally have to tell myself, "you need to stop replaying this, it isn't going to change anything if you keep thinking about it." The outcome of events that have happened will not change whether you are thinking about it or not. So why then do we create our own internal turmoil if it is not going to change a thing. We need to train ourselves and our thinking to avoid this unproductive habit. My favorite part of these verses is "and the peace of God which transcends all understanding." It's my favorite because it's true. You can't explain the feeling of tranquility, the feeling of release when you are able to capture those troublesome thoughts and hand them over. Learning to be aware of your thoughts and how to redirect them will produce a positive reaction.
Rest For Your Mind and Body
How can we be at peace if we feel tired and exhausted all of the time. We live in a culture where busy is best. Best for what is my question. If life is a competition to see who's schedule can be filled with the most little league games, PTO meetings, bake sale cookie making (and so on), please take me out of that game. I have already tried out for that team and I quit! How can we enjoy life if we never get any rest? If God couldn't work seven days a week, then neither should we (Genesis 2:2-3). Rest is not a luxury, it is a necessity! If our lives feel like constant chaos, no wonder our minds do too. If we want to experience the true peace God has to offer, then we should follow His example. Take that day of rest (or two or a week!). We only get one life on this earth to enjoy, don't work it away.
Peace is a gift and a fruit we bear. Finding this peace that Jesus promises to those who love Him may not be easy, but it is always accessible. No matter what our circumstances, no matter what we are going through, it is possible to find the undeniable peace that we all crave to live in.