I am exhausted mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. My emotions are worn out. My feelings are raw one moment and then numb, raging, running the gauntlet that is, well, exhausting! I’m reeling from natural disasters, social unrest, fear, uncertainties, anxieties, and the “new normal,” which perpetuates the cycle.
Many are experiencing the deepening desire for things to be as they were before life substantially changed, even though we know they weren’t all that great. At least things were predictable, and we felt like we had some sense of control. We want to hear ourselves think. We want to feel normal again.
There is little peace in our communities, streets, government, homes, or our health. Our spirits are desperately yearning for a moment of peace. If we could just push pause for a time amidst the chaos and gain some moments to take a deep breath and feel some peace.
Let’s be reminded of two verses we may have highlighted in our Bibles: “Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6,7 NET). The New Living Translation reads, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7 NLT).
One of my favorite writers, Oswald Chambers, comments, “The idea of peace in connection with personality is that every power is in perfect working order to the limit of activity. That is what Jesus means when He says, “My peace.” Never have in mind the idea of jadedness or stagnation in connection with peace. Health is physical peace, but health is not stagnation; health is the perfection of physical activity. Virtue is moral peace, but virtue is not innocence; virtue is the perfection of moral activity. Holiness is spiritual peace, but holiness is not quietness; holiness is an intense spiritual activity. The profound realization of God makes you too unspeakably peaceful to be capable of any self–interest.” (If Thou Wilt Be Perfect, by Oswald Chambers.)
Maybe you have heard the saying, “Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of God.” That’s a hard concept to fully grasp, that the absence of turmoil is not the evidence of true peace in our lives or in society. But it is the activity of God’s Spirit moving among us, and we are to actively live as conduits of God’s peace during these days. Right now, it seems the most counter intuitive thought we could have—that we can feel any peace in our lives.
Another quote from Oswald Chambers states, “There is one unmistakable witness that Jesus promised us, and that is the gift of His peace. No matter how complicated the circumstances may be, one moment of contact with Jesus and the fuss is gone, the panic is gone, all the shallow emptiness is gone, and His peace is put in, absolute tranquility, because of what He says: ‘All power is given unto Me.’”
In Phil. 4:6-7, two words continually speak to me. The first is the word “surpasses.” (“And the peace of God that surpasses understanding.”) The NIV renders it “transcends.” The peace that is available to me is so much greater than whatever may be happening. Peace is not diminished in any way by the storms we are experiencing. The second word is “guard.” (“Guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus, NET). There is nothing, and no one, that can guard and protect the most important parts of us—our hearts and minds—the way God can. The condition of our minds and hearts are key to our ability to follow Christ’s command, “Do not be anxious about anything.”
So, can we have peace despite panic? Yep! Can we experience true peace amid the current pandemonium? For sure! It’s okay to admit when we’re not at peace, as long as we commit not to stay that way, and we recognize God tells us we don’t have to stay that way. God makes it possible for us to be at peace. It is not “fake it ‘til you make it” but determining daily to live within the power of the peace that God makes available to us all.
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, it’s okay. But let’s decide each day that we will allow the power of the peace of God to reign supreme in us. God is still alive and active in His people and in our society. Because of that fact, we do have hope and we can have that much needed commodity—real peace.