A Person of Peace
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)
As I write this, I sit at home in self-isolation due to being sick. I've just had my COVID test and await the results which tell me how long my life is going to be affected by simply being sick. It's an interesting time that we live in, where my daughter's birthday gathering may have to be cancelled because I contracted an illness and where I have to scramble to figure out how church is going to happen without me being there. Overall, when you think about it, these are minor inconveniences. I know that other people are facing much more drastic problems. But at the same time, I find myself faced with the question of whether I will choose to have peace in the middle of the circumstance or not.
Throughout your entire life, you will be presented with various challenges and circumstances that are beyond your ability to control. Whenever you face one of these, you won't just have to handle the problem, you have to confront the emotions that you have around the problem. You may not have a choice about the problem (in my circumstance, being sick), but you always have a choice about your emotional response towards the problem. With my case, the internal question for me is whether I'm going to trust God and pray or wind myself up into an anxious mess. As I write this, the correct choice seems obvious, but it is rarely so in the day to day living out of things. Anxiety just seems so natural, so normal to me. It almost seems like a wise response to the probable outcome instead of the emotional poison that it actually is.
I think that one of the greatest gifts that Jesus ever gave was the gift of peace. In fact, he is called the "Prince of Peace" (see Isaiah 53) and tells us specifically that He gives this peace to His followers in John 14:27 which is written above. As believers and followers of Christ, peace is our portion, part of our identity, a birthright and inheritance given to us from God. We own this peace once it's given to us. But here's the catch… you can own something but choose to never use it. You can possess something that never gets used. It takes a conscious choice to drag it out and apply it to the situation. I've owned a bass guitar for almost 15 years and know how to play it well. I love it, but right now it's gathering dust in my basement and has been for several years. It's something I own, but don't apply myself to use. Until I make a clear choice to go and practice it again, it's going to continue to sit there. Peace is like that. I have to make a choice to take it off of the shelf of my mind and put it into practice.
How do we do that? The Bible says in Phil 4:-7, "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." In other words, you access true peace by bringing your cares before God in prayer and trusting that He will take care of them. It is a conscious exercise in faith to present your problems to God and leave them in His care. When you do that, you don't own your cares and concerns anymore. God does. You don't need to worry about them, because we have a God who cares about us and about our problems and will be with us no matter what.
That is what is the really amazing thing about this kind of peace. It's not some elusive concept. Not something that is there one moment and gone the next. This peace is a person; a person who has come and chosen to dwell inside of us. It is a peace that will never abandon us or forsake us. It is a person that we can trust and be completely vulnerable with, truly sharing our hearts and concerns to. This person, when faced with a storm that threatened His life and the lives of all of His friends, spoke to it and said "'Peace, be still' And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." (Mark 4:39)
I don't ever want to trivialize the tough circumstances that you are going through. Heaven knows there's a lot that we're all dealing with this year alone. It is legitimately difficult. But we always have the option to have peace. There is no situation too difficult for God. There is nothing that He cannot overcome. There is no problem that is greater than the peace that He is.
So where are you at with peace today? Are you accessing the peace we have been given that dwells within us or are you letting your problems overwhelm you? When you look at your life are you filled with anxiety? Do you see the size of the problem instead of the size of our God? It's time to choose to access the peace we have been given.