Several years ago, in a small group setting, the group was asked to name something we had experienced since we had encountered Jesus. My immediate response was “peace.” I was slightly taken aback by the group leader’s follow-up question, “What if God took your peace away, would you still love Him?”
The answer was, and is, a simple “yes.”
What came out of my mouth? A rather abrupt, defensive answer, “He would not take that peace away. He knows how desperately I need it. He is a good God and He loves me!”
In my mind, I searched for memory verses to support my position:
“You will keep in perfect peace, those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You” (Isaiah 26:3)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…” (Galatians 5:22a)
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7)
“The LORD gives strength to His people; the LORD blesses His people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11)
“Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace.” (Psalm 37:37)
Why is Peace So Important to Me?
I am a recovering type A personality. Seriously, there is such a thing. A new friend recently said the same thing about herself. About a decade ago though, I made a decision to stop climbing mountains simply because they were there, and I could. I now want to focus my efforts on those where I will enjoy the adventure, the company, and those where I can enjoy a glorious view as I fulfill God’s purpose for my life. I want to climb those mountains God puts before me because I know I do not face them alone.
Would God take away my peace? Inconceivable!
But then, I recently came across a verse in the book of Job which caused me to pause: “I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” (Job 3:26)
These are the words of Job, a man, who in chapter 1 of the book that bears his name, is described as “blameless and upright” and who “feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). But then he experienced trial after trial. All he held dear was stripped away from him. God was silent at first and did not respond to Job’s cries. Job is further wounded by the friends who tell him that he must have done something wrong in order for God to punish him. There are not many who would be able to maintain a sense of peace in these circumstances.
Then God answers Job’s cries; He speaks at length of His sovereignty and of the glory of His works, rebuking Job for questioning Him. God also rebukes Job’s friends for not speaking the truth about Him to Job and asks Job to pray for them. Job’s blessing is restored through God’s grace and Job’s own repentance, and his relationship with the Lord is restored. The text does not directly state that Job’s peace returns, but I would imagine it did.
To this day, extreme type A behavior in myself or others can still give me anxiety. Anxiety makes me lose sleep and that makes me a miserable human being. In my defense, continued sleep deprivation has severe negative effects on the human mind and can result in bad behavior such as irritability, moodiness, emotionality and much worse. If I am the type A personality in the room, this effectively means that I can singlehandedly cause anxiety in my own heart, the results of which do not bode well for either me or for others.
The peace I have experienced, however, since I made the decision to let go of the driver’s wheel in my life journey and become a Christ-follower, has been the most amazing gift. The peace I have received because I am both intimately known and unconditionally loved, and yet still a work-in-progress, is what brings me to my knees time and again. Not that I do not sometimes experience the everyday worries of this life, but the relationship I have with the Father sets boundaries on those worries and keeps me from catastrophizing them. He restores peace in my heart, my mind, and my soul.
Another favorite passage of mine about peace is John 14:27 where Jesus assured His disciples, saying, “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.”
May you enjoy God’s peace despite the storms that will surge in your own heart and in the people and the world around you.
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Photo credit: MichaelUtech.