These are anxious and stressful days. We don’t find ourselves in unprecedented circumstances, but our present situation does come in the midst of a unique time. Climbing death counts, piling up bills, dwindling financial resources, and social as well as spiritual distancing takes a toll amidst an already divided society and leaves us asking, “Where is God?” The “invisible enemy” has had a visible impact in many ways but our God offers us real peace.
Peace Through the Words of Christ (John 16:33)
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (ESV)
The words that Jesus spoke bring peace. He said so. They are not merely theological abstractions; they are effectual. In the context of this precious verse, Jesus had spoken in figures of speech to reveal that he would be leaving and returning. The disciples did not understand, so he spoke plainly and assured them of his departure, the Father’s presence, and the peace that comes through the word of Christ.
Peace Through the Work of the Spirit (John 14:15-30)
The words of Christ bring peace only if they are remembered and rightly understood. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, brings to mind and teaches those powerful words. Notice that after Jesus points this out, his very next words are the assurance of peace.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:26-27 (ESV)
The peace that Jesus gives is not like the peace that the world provides. It does not come through security, safety, or strength. Instead, it comes through the word of his promise and his presence no matter our plight.
Peace Through Focus (Philippians 4:4-9)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)
Paul’s exhortation and encouragement to rejoice always and not be anxious is connected to the peace of God in Christ and the presence of the God of peace. The means through which this peace is delivered is through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving as well as thinking about and practicing things belonging to Christ.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
When our prayers, minds, and actions are focused on Christ Jesus, then the peace of God that comes from the God of peace will guard our hearts.
True peace can feel as elusive as finding an honest politician. A global pandemic, financial uncertainty, and isolation have left us reeling with anxiety. However, God has given us ways to experience peace no matter our circumstances. Faith in the words of Christ, reliance upon the Spirit, and focus on Christ in prayer, thought, and practice delivers tangible peace from an invisible God.
Photo credit: Stephanie Snyder