One of our greatest desires as humans is the longing to be free from the fears and concerns that consume so much of our lives.
The pressure of passing exams. Not being a good enough parent. Not earning enough to pay the bills. Failing to meet the expected outcomes at work. The recent squabble with a partner or friend.
Whether it is financial, relational or something else entirely, we all experience the weight of carrying these burdens. If they are undealt with, these burdens can lead to burnout, hopelessness, depression, broken relationships and more.
So how can we be at peace when there are so many difficulties that life brings our way?
In the lead up to His death, Jesus told his disciples, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So, don’t be troubled or afraid. (John chapter 14, verse 27)
When we learn to live with Christ, He gives us a peace that can only be attained by Him. Hence why people refer to Him as the “Prince of peace.”
In Colossians 3:15, Paul writes “let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.”
Letting the peace of Christ rule in our hearts means trusting God and letting Him take hold of the steering wheel. And that’s not a one-off thing. You don’t just pray and say God “here’s my life,” and then carry on doing what you have always done. Rather, we continually pray and seek for the Holy Spirit to guide us in everything we do and peace is what comes as a result.
But maybe you’re like me, and you know many people who have pursued God and everything seemed like it was going well, but then their faith fell to pieces. Or maybe you have a relationship with God, but things haven’t gotten better. And you’re thinking I know Scripture says we find peace from Christ, but it doesn’t match up with my experience. Maybe you have a subtle underlying belief that God doesn’t actually give us His peace at all.
Not the blame game
When we think like this, usually one of two things happen; we either blame God or we blame ourselves. Either God isn’t really the all-powerful loving God that Scripture talks about or we are just not seeking Him hard enough.
If either of these thoughts come into our minds, the devil will wreak havoc. Because not only has he caused the fear and anxiety in us, he has also created a chasm between us and the only thing that can give us the peace you desire. That is Christ Himself.
Now if this is you, and you haven’t found peace from your relationship with Christ, I want to suggest that maybe there is a reason for this. Maybe instead of seeking God, you are seeking for things from God.
We ask God to take away the anxiety or depression that we have, to heal our sick friends, to mend our broken relationships, with the hope that then we will have peace. But then when God doesn’t answer our prayers in the way we were hoping for, it can feel like He has failed us.
The problem with this is that peace and joy aren’t given to us by things, but rather they are given to us by God. Christ doesn’t give us peace by changing our situation, He gives us peace by changing us.
And He does this by gently moulding us over time as we are in relationship with Him.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to change our situations, but rather that we can have peace regardless of whatever happens to us. I’m also not saying that we shouldn’t pray for healing, or for relationships or whatever situations we are in, it’s an important part of faith.
However, we need to be aware that when we pray for God to change things, He won’t always do what we expect. If we believe that He will only do what we ask for, we are setting ourselves up for failure because we do not control Him.
It’s also really important to understand that if we blame God and distance ourselves from Him, we are actually rejecting the peace and the joy that He offers us. This is where many people go wrong. They blame God, thinking that if only they had their way they would be happy, but fail to realise that there is nothing He could do or give us that would fulfil the desire that we have for Christ Himself.
Even if God decided to answer our prayers and give us all the things most people desire; wealth, health, family and friends, it doesn’t mean that we would have the peace and joy that we long for. Why? Peace and joy are a state of mind. Although it’s influenced by situations and things that happen to us, it can be attained in the hardest seasons of our lives.
For example, it was during his tenure in prison that Paul wrote “let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.” Starved, beaten, whipped, stoned and in fear for his life on various occasions throughout his ministry, Paul knew suffering well. But in the midst of his suffering, he grew to know God in such a way that he would have peace in the most difficult situations.
The next time you are facing a period of fear, grief or suffering, remember that Christ can give you His peace in most severe of storms.
Ethan grew up in Mt Roskill, Auckland. While finishing a degree in applied theology from Carey Baptist College, he moved slightly east and began working as pastor at Eastview Baptist Church, where he has been for three years. He loves getting out in nature, having a laugh and having deep conversations about life and faith.