With all the turmoil in the world, we can get rattled, burdened, & overwhelmed over the unknown & things beyond our control. Wars & rumors of war remind us that peace is a rare thing. Add in to that your everyday worries about job, family, finances, & health, & you can end up worried sick–literally. Some experience anxiety attacks. Some may feel a weight pressing down on their chests, or their stomachs tied up in knots. Maybe you’re a Tums addict & Pepto chugger as you pace the floor & bite your nails. Maybe it’s high blood pressure. When the stress hits, you can just feel tensing up & tingling in your limbs. Or it could be spending sleepless nights because you can’t turn off your mind from dwelling on the stress.
The Proverbs remind that anxiety weighs the heart down (12:25), but a tranquil heart brings life (14:30). Much of therapy & counseling can simply be trying to calm the fretful. One guy said, “My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I’ve finished two bags of chips and a chocolate cake.” There’s a better way to deal with stress.
It goes beyond therapeutic issues to something deeper–a spiritual one that has to do with God. The Bible describes God as the God of peace (Romans 15:33). The core issue is: Do I have peace with God? When we accept the peace treaty offered by Jesus, we surrender our lives to His care. We’re put right with God, & our whole world changes! Jesus enters your troubled heart & says, “Peace be with you” (John 20:26).
The peace He promises isn’t removing all the sources of stress. But we’re not troubled by those things like before. We begin to handle concerns with a calmness. It becomes a sense of confidence that God is truly with me. Before he ascended into heaven, Jesus told His discouraged disciples: “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).
Jesus experienced serious times of trouble & tension. But He always had a great calm at His core. He didn’t promise us problem-free lives either–in fact, He said we will have trouble (John 16:33). But His presence now & His victory in overcoming this world invites me to humble myself under God (because He’s God & I’m not), “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). If He wants to take the burden of my anxieties, why would I hang on to them? Offer up your prayers, put it in God’s hands, then sleep well. “…Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer…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” (Phil. 4:6-7). That surpassing peace is something supernatural that can’t be counterfeited by the world.
The culture throws out the word “peace” as a hollow word. But in the Bible, the greeting of “peace” held deep meaning. It’s a word Christians used but was carried over from Judaism and the Hebrew word “shalom.” Shalom was more than just the absence of hostilities & pressures. It carried the idea of God’s blessings of goodness in your whole being. Complete well-being from peace with God leads to peace within & with others.
The Lord’s shalom transcends troubles–it goes deeper than emotions to a calm confidence He’s in control, He’s good, and working all things together for my good (Rom. 8:28). When we’re certain of our ultimate salvation it soothes our souls. Anxieties drain away as we fill our minds with what God says. He gives you the proper perspective. I’d conjecture that if more people would absorb the Bible’s message, more psychiatrists would go out of business. I know it sounds simplistic, but that’s the way God changes the way you think…which changes the way you feel and the way you act.
There’s a difference between worry and concern. Legitimate concerns move us to action. Worry paralyzes us. We should be concerned about real problems, & try to resolve them. But worrying about all the “what ifs” is futile & doesn’t help anything. Worry only wastes time & energy, erodes our health, & reveals a lack of faith. Jesus points out that worrying about everyday life & about tomorrow can’t add a single hour to your life (Matt. 6:25-34). He points out that our heavenly Father takes care of our needs when we seek first His kingdom and righteousness; that is, when we prioritize what God does. Those who don’t have peace with God through Christ get stressed out because they don’t have or even understand that.
So instead, I can choose to trust God & relax, because stress isn’t really what’s happening around you–stress is how you choose to react. I can go to Him in prayer anytime, read my Bible regularly, & gather weekly for worship to experience the encouraging community of faith. God doesn’t need our worship–we need to worship because it re-orients us to a God-centered life instead of a self-centered one. Worship reminds us of God’s sovereignty, goodness, & provision. It helps us to focus on what matters most & our divine purpose. It strengthens our resolve for the week ahead. So these simple practices take up the offer to fix our thoughts on God because He keeps us in perfect peace when we trust in Him (Isaiah 26:3).
There’s a coming day of eternal peace when swords will be beaten into plowshares, & lions lie down with lambs. But we ain’t there yet. So until then, try taking Jesus up on HIs offer: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Peace out.