In John 14:27 Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
There is no doubt that each day is filled with dozens of reasons to abandon peace and to “let our hearts be troubled.” Life can be scary. It can be stressful and frustrating and incredibly fast moving. Even though Jesus left us with peace, we live in a world that attaches busyness and stress, to our overall worthiness and success as a person, making the struggle for peace more of a challenge than ever.
Unfortunately, like everything else in life, it doesn’t take much for our fragile selves to be nudged off our axis and begin the downward spiral:
- Stress: “I’m under a lot of stress.” We say it, and often it is a bragging right to validate our busyness and importance. As in “I have soooooo much going on. I am so stressed.” When we allow the stress of life to pile up, we choose to allow the burden of the immediate to override the promises of Jesus who said, “Follow me…My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” He promised us a light burden, yet when we are under stress we are subjected to an immensely heavy load.
- Doubt: When doubt creeps in, often our hearts say to the Lord, “I’m just not sure I believe you.” His goodness, faithfulness and love for us is all brought into question. When we are crippled by uncertainty, we put our trust in the fear of our unseen future, instead of the promises of our everlasting God who has vowed he will never leave or forsake us.
- Fear: Fear is the full blown assault on peace. That may sound like an overstatement, but I believe, and have experienced its truth. There is nothing more opposite to God’s perfect love than fear. This anxious, alarmist, dreadful feeling can be completely paralyzing. We are all acquainted with it, and probably far too well. We can fear anything. The past, present or future. Fear of the past often manifests itself in shame. Fear of the present and future shows itself in the form of panic, anger, apprehension and control (to name a few). When we fear what’s next, we tend to tighten our grip on our circumstances and try to control something that is quite elusive and actually impossible to control — our future.
These “peace thieves” are more than stealers of our internal peace. They thwart God’s words and steal the very promises of our loving Father right out from underneath us. They undermine the truth that he has given us as his children, and ultimately leave us believing God won’t really do what he said he would. Or worse, that he’s an imposter, and he isn’t who he says he is. Fear, doubt and worry leave us feeling orphaned, powerless and alone.
The fight to hold tight to peace may feel challenging, but it’s worth the struggle. You know why? Because we are the light of the world, and we can’t shine bright when we’re eclipsed by fear. Because we are children of a perfect Father, who is the source of infinite and everlasting peace.
Friends, let us be courageous. May his perfect love anchor us in peace, and cast away all fear, doubt, stress and anxiety. Let’s believe that what we have been given by Jesus is different than what our earthly selves are bent towards. We are not only overcomers, we are God’s children marked by his peace.
And may “His peace keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:7)
Let’s Live a Different Story!