THE FIGHT FOR PEACE
Fighting for peace may sound like an oxymoron, but anyone who has battled anxiety knows that it is truly a fight. Peace is a quality we all want to have. Spurgeon defines peace as, “The deep tranquility of a soul resting on God.” Who wouldn’t want deep tranquility? Everyone from mystics to Buddhists to Hindus to atheists long for deep tranquility. Yet, so few people seem to have it. Sure, we all experience moments of peace, pending on our circumstances.
The mom who lays her last child down for a nap takes a sigh of peace.
The student who submits his paper online at 11:59 pm lets out a breath of peace.
The hurried traveler who plops into his seat on the flight is swept with peace.
The stressed businessman who steps out into the ocean breeze on his vacation enjoys a feeling of peace.
And the relative who relocates the room of the patient out of the ICU feels a tentative sense of peace.
We’ve all been there. But the problem with these feelings of peace is their dependence on circumstances. In each of these cases, one set of circumstances hindered a sense of peace. Once the circumstances changed favorably, the peace arrived…temporarily, until the circumstances turned unfavorably. How can someone break this cycle of peace, trouble, anxiety? Peace must change its foundation. As long as peace is dependent on the foundation of shifty circumstances, security is unstable. For the mom who enjoys peaceful naptime, her solace is shattered the moment she hears a sleepy (or angry!) cry. But what if her sense of peace was anchored more deeply than her surroundings? Is it possible for her interruption of physical quiet to not shake her emotional rest? It is! And the Bible tells us how.
The Bible speaks directly about peace 370 times, and even more indirectly. God wants us to experience peace. It is even evidence of the Spirit’s work in our lives (Gal. 5:22)!
HOW TO GET PEACE
We also know how to get it—in theory at least. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us to stop being anxious, but instead pray with thankfulness, and then enjoy understanding-surpassing peace! Isaiah 26:3-4 tells us that God will keep us in perfect peace when we keep our minds focused on the Lord, trusting in God. These passages are true, and they work! But am I the only one who has gone through these steps of praying, even begging God to replace my fear with peace, only to still have a knot in my stomach? Is the problem my faith? Or am I missing something?
NOT MY WILL, BUT YOURS
About two weeks ago, I went through this process of asking God to free me from my anxious feelings since I sincerely was trying to trust Him. I can’t even remember what the issue was at the moment (so it must not have been very important), but I do remember realizing the barrier to my peace. In telling God that I trusted Him, I still wanted what I wanted. My fingers were still clasped to what I was afraid of losing, so of course my anxiety hung on, too.
In the quietness of my bedroom, I literally uncurled my fingers in a physical act to show God (and myself) that I didn’t want what I wanted, but what He wanted, whatever it may be. And then the peace came! It seems so simple now, but at the moment, I learned a profound lesson. In my fight for peace, I must yield my will to God’s. As long as I’m hanging on to my wants, I’ll feel anxious till I get them.
So trusting God is more than acknowledging God’s sovereignty. It is releasing my life into that sovereignty, believing that my Good Father knows better than I do. From my limited vantage point, I would be foolish to keep grasping for what I want. Relinquishing my hold on my desires frees me to enjoy that deep tranquility of resting on God.
WHAT DO YOU WANT?
What do you want? What issue brings you anxiety? Ask God to help you release your desires to replace them with God’s. And be willing to embrace whatever He brings you. Don’t worry. He is a Good Father. He won’t leave you. He won’t let you go. All of His promises stand true, even in this area. You can rest.
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