We talk about peace a lot around Christmas. The Bible mentions peace even more often. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. Peace is something that Jesus leaves with us. Peace is something that might not make sense as it surpasses all understanding.
“I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous! John 14:27
I believe Jesus left peace with us by leaving us Himself. Peace is not the absence of conflict or suffering, but a person. When I am in relationship with God (in other words, acknowledging His presence), I have peace. No matter what else is going on around me, I can have peace.
So often we want peace to be when everything is going “right” and we are enjoying green meadows and bubbling brooks. Even when we are surrounded by craziness, though, we can have peace because we always have Jesus. He promises to never leave us.
How do we come back to peace when the storms swirl around us?
First, use the stress, worry and anxiety to push you back to God. These feelings are not reason to beat up on ourselves and tell ourselves we should do better. Rather, we can enter into the courage He brings, and find peace there. We are a branch on the Vine—only through Him as our source can we find peace and courage in the strangest of circumstances.
Second, practice moments of focus. Breathe in and out deeply, recognizing His presence with you right now. Brennan Manning used to breathe in saying “Abba” and breathe out saying “I belong to you.” Sometimes the simplicity of this breath can bring me back to a focus on the One who brings peace with Him.
I think sometimes we are afraid of contentment or peace because we think productivity is what God wants, and sometimes stress motivates us to produce or act. What He wants, though, is relationship with you. He doesn’t want you to do more, but to be with Him and to come to Him in your mind and heart whenever you are anxious. This doesn’t mean you do nothing, but what you do is birthed and sourced by Him. We don’t allow motivation by pressure, stress, duty or guilt.
Third, don’t yield to fear. So many things around us are yelling at us to be afraid. Worry about this! And this! And this! Instead of allowing the noise around you to drown everything out, listen for God’s voice. He says you don’t have to be afraid because you have access to His peace. Being courageous doesn’t mean you don’t have fear, but you don’t yield to it. Fear doesn’t get to be the boss of you.
Fourth, let yourself be encouraged. Have you ever noticed that “encourage” has “courage” in the very word? Encouragement could be defined as having courage put into you. Some people don’t want to be encouraged. They want to choose to live in discouragement because they feel it is more comfortable or they don’t want to see anything else.
How does God encourage you? I have a friend who is big on self-care, and she told me that she realized she had a system of resources to put in place whenever she felt depressed. Her methods were time alone, baths, nutrition, sleep, meditation, etc. I thought it was interesting that she was aware of what helped her. Do you know how you are encouraged? Look at your own system and implement these things when you need a little courage.
For me, it is time with Him just pouring out my heart, good music, recognizing beauty around me, reaching out to a friend who will pray with me, reading God’s love letter to me and hearing Him speak to me there. Ann Voskamp talks about taking “glory walks” where she walks outside every day, training herself to notice all the beauty that God has birthed in creation. This time allows her to find encouragement.
Remember peace doesn’t come when the battle is over. That’s why we aren’t to yield to fear. Peace is a constant because we always have the Trinity connected to us—Father, Son and Spirit have made their home in us. We always have access to peace.
Also remember it isn’t about how strong or fearless you are. Mike Wells used to say, “There are no great men of God. There are only weak men with a big God.” That goes for women too! You have a big God who brings peace and courage. Go to Him for any battle, any suffering, any circumstance. He will always show up.
Re-published with the permission of Hannah Morrell at Borken & Hopeful, a ministry created for those who feel broken to fin hope in Jesus.