How do we find this peace that Jesus offers us, especially when the pressure hits?
A lot of the time, our actions reveal who we really are; all the little things that can easily 'set us off'. An irritation which feels enormous, because we have endured it for years. We all have them.
I have discovered that peace needs to be consciously practiced and prayed. For me, what Paul writes in Philippians 4:6-7 is useful to remember: ‘And the peace of God, which surpasses understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ’. I can’t pretend that I know this off by heart, but it is a verse for every day, not just when things go really wrong.
Having to let go of something that is out of our control, means that prayer can become the only option. This is easier to do in a situation when we absolutely can’t or couldn’t do anything else.
But can this sense of our hearts being ‘guarded’ and ‘the peace of God’ follow you into the night? This is not a metaphor but a reality for those of us who wake at night and replay problems, frustrations and fears over and over again. How do we change the gear of our mind in the middle of the night?
Paul in Philippians 4:6 also says: ‘Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’ God cares for the everyday worries of our lives. My brain struggles with this at 2am!
God promises that if we turn to Him in difficult times, He will give us peace beyond belief and beyond understanding. It is this peace that will be a guard to our hearts; it will protect our hearts and minds.
My night time example is not one of the dark night of the soul variety, but they are still things that affect me, us, as people – for these things come from the heart. Our heart is what God is interested in. The peace spoken of here is supernatural, it is not the kind that is fleeting or based on our circumstances. As Jesus tells his audience in John 14:27 - peace comes from Him.
Perfect peace is more than the absence of conflict. It is the combination of completeness and wholeness as a direct result of faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross. We know we have an eternal gift of life with Jesus and our hope in the resurrection, but what about remembering this every day?
I suppose it starts by understanding that God knows you, especially your heart. The good, the bad and the ugly. Your deepest fears: unrelenting desires; your ever-present pain; but most importantly what you need. Again, I am reminded by how letting go and laying things at the foot of the cross, needs to happen each day.
Our power for every day is prayer. Andrew Bonar quoted in The Prayer Motivator Minute; #516 says ‘God likes to see his people shut up to this, that there is no hope but in prayer. Herein lies the church’s power against the world.’
Furthermore, Jim Cymbala in Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire says ‘Prayer is the source of the Christian life. We are not New Testament Christians if we don’t have a prayer life.’ This may make us uncomfortable, but how else will God be able to work through us and give us peace? Including peace that goes beyond understanding. Supernatural peace. Paul calls our problems ‘works of the flesh.’ He calls for repentance, for daily dying to self - it is not flamboyant exorcism- but humility and daily surrender.
The mantra is pray, release, repeat.
For me this is food for thought and hope for the soul.
Head of Senior School
South Plympton Campus Principal