A familiar salutation found within New Testament epistles contains the words, “Grace and peace.” God wants us to know peace in our hearts, but we often experience negative emotions such as anxiety, worry, anger and fear. At times the circumstances of life bring about disturbances. Yet, how we respond to people and problems influences our level of peace and contentment. Warren Wiersbe once said, “You and I cannot change or control the world around us, but we can change and control the world within us.”
We’re wise to remember that peace from God is different than peace from the world. Jesus said, “‘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.’” (John 14:27) Whereas the world’s peace may be a temporary cessation of anger and arguing, God’s peace will be a permanent tranquility that enables us to live life fruitfully.
We’re encouraged through scripture with the words, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) Talking to God with a thankful heart is a clear pathway to divine peace. For what can we be thankful in the midst of troubles and trials?
We may be thankful for how God has worked in the past. The Psalmist positions us to be thankful for God’s mighty power at work on behalf of Israel. “But he brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the desert. He guided them safely, so they were unafraid; but the sea engulfed their enemies. Thus he brought them to the border of his holy land, to the hill country his right hand had taken. He drove out the nations before them and allotted their lands to them as an inheritance; he settled the tribes of Israel in their homes.” (Psalm 78:52-55)
We may be thankful for God’s promises. Jesus said, “‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’” (John 16:33) Jesus has defeated the worst of our enemies. Problems with traffic or with technology may seem large. But these problems are miniature in comparison with matters of eternity. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
We may be thankful for God’s answers to our prayers. It helps us to remember how God answered prayers of yesterday. We prayed for employment and we were hired. We prayed about illnesses and we were healed. We prayed regarding relationships and we experienced reconciliation. We have many answered prayers we can count. Woodrow Kroll wrote: “Concentrate on counting your blessings and you’ll have little time to count anything else.”
Our answers to prayer came not because we were meritorious, but because of our Lord’s character. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7) We may place worry and fear at the foot of the cross. The peace that God brings is born out of his unconditional love for you and me. He cares for us.
Mother Teresa once said, “Peace begins with a smile.” Thinking about a loving God and the relationship I have with him brings joy to my soul. “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3) What we think about, what we’re focused on makes all the difference. Let’s always be thinking about the Lord, Jehovah Shalom, and we will receive His peace.
Pastor Ken Atchison
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com.