What are you worried about? What is stressing you out? What is causing you to have heartache, bitterness, or frustration? What is keeping you from experience the peace of God?
In this crazy Silicon Valley, it is easy to get wrapped up in the go, go, go pace of life. Working, going to school, having a family or just being part of one, having a social life, church, small groups, discipleship, and usually trying to do most of these things all within the same week. It’s overwhelming, and it’s stressful. To top it off, this doesn’t even include our mental and emotional states of trying to figure out life; or, the brokenness, heartache and frustration that come as we face an array of situations. Life to say the least is far, usually very far, from being peaceful – at least from a worldly perspective. Did you know that Jesus promises us peace, a peace that this world cannot offer?
During the last supper while, Jesus and the disciples partake in the Jewish celebration of the Passover, Jesus begins to prepare his disciples for what is about to occur next: Jesus’ crucifixion, his resurrection and his ascendance into heaven – a conversation that I’m sure was utterly terrifying and confusing for the disciples. In the middle of decision, we read in John chapter 14:25-31 that Jesus is not just leaving his followers to fend for themselves, but that He is leaving them (ultimately you and me) with a few gifts. The major gift is the gift of the Holy Spirit, the “counselor,” is given to us to help guide, teach and remind us of the things that God has done and said. But another vital part of the gifts Jesus leaves us is his peace. In John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27, NIV)
By looking at another translation, the NLT (New Living Translation), we can see that Jesus’ peace represents more than an emotional, carefree, peace but rather peace within the heart and mind. The NLT translates this verse this way: “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 14:27, NLT). Jesus’ peace, which is the peace of God, allows us not to be overwhelmed by the different events, emotions and situations that we find in life.
So what is God’s peace? It is not having a carefree and stressless situation. It is not being in control of your life. It is not an emotional feeling. And it is not having everything figured out. The peace of God is much, much deeper than this. God’s peace provides you with a hope and a sense of restfulness even in the middle of a chaotic, or stressful situation. Having God’s peace helps you to trust that God’s will is perfect despite the outward appearance of your circumstances. The gift of peace that comes only from God allows you to sink deeply into him and his grace, despite heartache, brokenness, confusion, frustration, or lack of control.
So how do you experience this peace? First, you need to learn to place your full trust in God. As you learn to trust and take God at his word – that which he speaks to you both in the Bible and through his Spirit – your ability to experience the peace of God grows. Trusting God with your whole life, or even just a small bit of your circumstances and emotions can be a huge step. But take hope, there are little things that you can do on a daily basis that will help as you place your hope and faith in God. And these little things will help you begin to experience the peace of God:
- Pray and Give Thanks to God about everything (Philippians 4:6-7). Take time throughout your day, week, month and year to stop, breathe, and focus on God. Ask God for guidance, patience, peace, hope, trust. Ask God to move in your current situation. Thank God for all that he already has done. And sink deeply into him.
- Read: get into the word of God or at the very least get a daily devotional. The Bible is how we learn about God, the things He’s done and the promises He’s made. Reading his word helps us learn who God really is and why we worship him. (Acts 2:42)
- Seek wise-council. Ask a friend in Christ, a sibling, a parent, a pastor, a mentor, or your small group to pray for you. Fellowship and community is one of the greatest ways of growing and being encouraged in your faith (Hebrews 10:23-25).
- Get away; go to the place you feel most at home or at peace even if its just for an hour or even ten minutes (if that’s all you have) – get out of your current physical circumstances. Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, or Gethsemane, to pray before he was arrested (Luke 22:39-46).
- Fast: give something up for a period of time. Fasting doesn’t need to be from food completely, it can be from a specific food group, or it can be something as simple as Facebook, TV, video games, non-worship music, etc. Then take the time you don’t spend eating or social networking to read or pray or seek advice. Take the craving for whatever it is that you give up to focus on God’s promise for peace and providence (Nehemiah 1:4-11,Esther 4:1-3, Daniel 1:1-21).
Author: Emily “EmJ” James