My sister Brenda and her daughter, Gentry
“These things I have spoken to you,
so that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you have tribulation, but take courage;
I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
How do you tell someone who just lost a son or a daughter, a spouse, or a friend that it is part of God’s plan and that eventually they will have peace about it? How does someone who daily deals with disease find peace throughout the long battle? How do you get through those difficult trials and storms of everyday life? What do you have to do or how long do you have to wait until that “magic” moment comes when despite the emotional or physical pain you are suffering, you feel that soothing sense of peace and perspective?
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
We often rely on family and friends to get us through tough times, to help us weather life’s storms. The things that they do for us can be a blessing and are often uplifting, at least momentarily—sending cards, emails, text messages, books, notes of encouragement, music CDs, food. Sometimes those are the very things that give you the strength to get out of bed and get through the day. But if you don’t actively pursue peace, although you may be sustained for a while, you won’t easily move beyond the storm to the still waters where you will find peace and serenity. Waiting for the storm to pass can take time and it can be hard.
“But nothing is hopeless. Every hurt can become a treasure. Every ending is the beginning of a fresh start. Every tear is the watering of new growth. And the only moment that truly lasts forever is the one where we say yes. Yes, Lord, you are my faithful friend — my God in whom I trust.” (C Michelle Bryant, allaboutreflections.org/finding-peace)
“I lift my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1–2
When you are ready to move past the turmoil, there is one reliable Counselor who is always ready to listen to you and walk with you and help you in your time of need, and that is Jesus. Maybe you’ve heard it said that you can cast your burdens on Him and He will carry them. But understand this: it doesn’t mean that He will take away the troubles or the pain. He will, however, lighten our loads so that we are able to bear them, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. All you have to do is ask.
“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.” 1 Peter 5:6–7
Sometimes, you don’t know how to ask or even what to ask for. After grieving or suffering for a while, you may feel disconnected from God, like He has been distant. When most likely you may have been distant from Him. Sometimes the shroud of grief or the pain of an illness or maybe the intensity of anger or hurt makes it hard for us to see Him.
“My love for you is constant: I am the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is you who change like shifting sand, letting circumstances toss you this way and that.” (Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, April 8)
“Jesus purposed to find peace among the pandemonium [of His time]. Likewise in the Old Testament, the Psalmists often list peace, calm, and quiet as gifts given to those who earnestly seek the Lord and desire to walk in His ways.” (Karen Ehman, Drowning In or Drowning Out Distractions?, Encouragement for Today, Proverbs 31 Ministries, April 8, 2011)
If you continue to seek God during your life storm and cling to Him, you may just wake up one day and feel an unexplainable peace. You’ve heard about the “calm before the storm,” but you can also find calm again after a storm. Perhaps nothing has changed about your situation, but one day you’ll just get this wonderful sense of God’s awesome presence, His power, and His love. The fog of despair lifts and you see a glimpse of sunshine. My friend Jacquelyn experienced something like that; see her recent Facebook post below.
Jacquelyn Spencer (FB post 4/2/11)
It’s interesting how this week started off so scary b/c of the “facts re: my liver biopsy.” And even though the facts remain the same & are even a little more “real” 2 me being that I’m now on the harsher chemo & unsure of the future…God has given me HIS PERFECT PEACE! What a blessing to go from FEAR (that does NOT come from The Lord) to COMPLETE PEACE in a short time solely B/C OF JESUS OUR LORD!
The only antidote to fear is faith. The courage to face our storms is not something we find within ourselves. It is the result of faith and purpose: “Drowning in so many daily distractions can keep us from hearing God’s voice. Let’s purpose together to drown out our distractions instead, and tune in to the life-giving Word. He is the only steady source from which we can ever find true and lasting peace.” (Karen Ehman, Drowning In or Drowning Out Distractions?)
“The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
Bart’s niece LeAnne wrote one of her school papers about how she is dealing with the recent loss of her cousin, Joshua: “…the way I have started to and will continue to heal from my pain and go on in life, is by trusting in God and completely relying on Him. …
To get through this tough time, … I pray. Praying brings me closer to God, and lets me get out my feelings. I talk through the pain I am feeling with Him, tell Him I am relying on Him, and I want His help. I read my Bible. Reading my Bible also brings me closer to God. It comforts me and teaches me how to move forward.”
Some people connect to God simply by reading their Bibles; they find that it brings them closer to Him. Others find strength to get past their pain and fears by pulling out and focusing on particular passages that speak to their hearts, reminding them of how much God loves and cares for them. It is not a coincidence that when you are truly searching, you will often find just the right Scripture that will envelop you in God’s embrace, where comfort and true peace can be found.
“‘though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken’ … says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10, NIV)
“When difficulty hits, don’t let sound wisdom vanish from your sight. Keep your eyes on the Lord. By seeing every situation through His eyes, you can rest in His wisdom and good purposes. Then stress will lift, anxiety will be replaced with peace, and confidence in the Lord will silence your fears.” [Dr. Charles Stanley, In Touch Ministries Daily Devotional, April 5, 2011, The Peace of Wisdom]
God’s peace is the result of NOT being anxious about anything. And not being anxious is the result of taking everything to God in prayer and believing … trusting … knowing that He will take care of all things. If you are suffering today due to loss, pain, guilt, anger, jealousy, or “fill-in-the-blank,” I pray that you will be open to seeking and receiving God’s peace.
My sweet niece, Gentry
“Jesus said, ‘Peace I leave with you.
My peace I give to you; not as the world gives,
give I to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled,
neither let it be fearful.’” John 14:27