Life Lesson 37: Despite our best efforts, discouragement is inevitable. But having a relationship with Jesus Christ…
Life Lesson 7: During uncertain times, the natural reaction may be fear or discouragement. When the tumultuous winds of life come blowing your way, what is the anchor that rudders your soul? For me, I’m reminded of the Cross of Christ that lightens my soul, and God’s great promise that His peace which transcends all understanding will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).
“The Lord turns His face toward you and give you peace” –Numbers 6:26 (NIV)
No one would dispute that we’re all sailing along life’s unchartered waters of a global pandemic, economic crisis, uncertainty, and even widespread deaths. It’s enough to cause anxiety and even depression. With all this going on, how does one find comfort and peace during these unprecedented times? Allow me to share how remembering God’s goodness anchors my soul in difficult times.
After years of searching, I finally found true and lasting peace that only the Creator of the universe can give. No amount of fortune, fame, prestige, power, or person can give you lasting peace. Simply put, nothing can grant you the kind of peace I am talking about. This is the kind of peace that surpasses all earthly understanding. It cannot be bought and it cannot be sold. Only through God’s grace and love can any human being find the kind of peace I have come to know. The kind no human being can describe fully, yet he or she knows and feels that sense of calmness and wholeness in the midst of chaos and confusion.
For years, I looked in all the wrong places to satisfy the deep longing in my soul. I cannot describe quite what that “longing” or emptiness feels like, I only know it was a very heavy burden that was so overwhelming, it consumed my entire being. I was filled with fear and anxiety because of the raging storms around me. I would go days on end looking at everything outside of myself at what I thought would take away the restlessness vacuum in my soul. I had no peace. If you had met me back then, you couldn’t tell because I covered it really well with makeup, nice clothes, and false positives. You might even say to yourself, “She looks so happy” or “She’s a very happy person.” Little did anyone know, before I found the peace that satisfies, I was in a desperate daze of utter misery. The turmoil within me was too much to bear. I could not understand how as a Christian and someone who desperately seeks to please God, faithfully goes to church, reads her Bible daily and prays, does not have peace in her life. I questioned my faith. I felt like a phony, pretending to be happy and fulfilled, yet I had no peace. I thought since I am a Christian, I should have complete peace, right? Wrong! That is the common misconception that if you are a Christian, then you have it all together. Well, I am here to tell you that’s not always true. You can be walking with the Lord, doing everything right and still come against the raging storms of life. We are all imperfect beings living in a messed up world and vulnerable to the temptation of sin. We all experience trying times and the believer in Christ is no different.
Life is challenging, and as Christians, we sometimes try to live a life of perfection that God does not ask or require of us. We want people to see that we have it all together when in reality, we do not. God knows it and we know it in our own hearts. As the late Evangelist, Dr. Billy Graham once said, “The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.’” In my quest for peace, I am learning that the ebbs and flows of life can dramatically affect the tide of my life, and if I’m not careful, I can respond according to every which way the wind blows. My response then can ultimately alter the trajectory of my life. I’m encouraged by what the Psalmist said, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3).
If we are not careful, our peace can sometimes be interrupted by life’s circumstances. I have found this to be true for me. One moment I’m driving along, feeling complete peace and another driver cuts me off in traffic, and suddenly the driver’s action, intentional or not, sets me off, and just like that my peace is gone. I am learning that it is in those trying moments that I need sustaining peace. Not peace when things are going great, but peace that endures, even in the midst of major trials and tribulations. Please don’t misunderstand, I am still a work in progress because finding peace does not happen overnight. I am learning that it is a journey. A journey of daily commitment to Jesus, and it is something we should constantly pursue because we live in a world where our peace can and will be interrupted by the events and pressures of life. In John 14: 27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” We were meant to live a peaceful life, not just with our neighbors, but within ourselves.
Internal peace is what many of us struggle with. So, if Jesus has left us His peace, why then do we sometimes battle within ourselves to find it? Is it not because we seek the peace of the world? Is it not because we are looking for peace in all the wrong places? Think about all the reasons you are stressed, restless, and unfulfilled right now and ask yourself, “Where am I looking, and what am I looking at to find peace?” If where you are looking and what you are looking at troubles you or creates some kind of fear or discontentment, then it is not the Peace of God. When we take our focus off Jesus and put it on our circumstances, we lose our peace. As Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church said in a recent tweet, “Nothing will disrupt our awareness of God’s presence like focusing on our own discontent.”
The Christian life is about asking, seeking, and trusting God every day, especially in the dark paths of life. It’s about allowing God to meet me right where I am…restless, overwhelmed, doubtful and all. He already knows my frailties and He does not condemn me (Romans 8:1). I sometimes learn the hard way. That is why I wanted to share with you that you too do not have to go through what I went through. My prayer is that despite the battle you’re facing today, and the burdens you carry, know that you are not alone and that the God who created the universe is the same faithful God who will see you through these difficult times. Take His hand and walk with Him. He will lovingly guide you to eternal peace, even in the midst of your turmoil.
If you are in a season right now in your life where things are out of control, you may be tempted to fear the future, let me encourage you to look to Jesus and persevere in faith because when you do, you can rest assured in knowing that He who promises, is faithful. God will surely save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. Like an eagle cares for its eaglet, the Lord will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge when you remember that His faithfulness will always be your protection (Psalm 91:3-4).
As you navigate the treacherous waters in your life, keep in mind that embracing the peace of God can take some time, knowing that it is the kind of peace that will require first an abiding in Jesus Christ through repentance, constant prayer and meditation on His Word. You must commit to finding this peace, and when you do, treasure it in your heart so that when the waves of life come crashing in, you have the lifejacket of Jesus Christ who will rescue you from troubled waters and guide you to safety along the shore of peace.
Whether you have been a Christian all of your life, a brand new Christian, or you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, take courage and assurance in knowing that peace is within your reach when you call on Him. Let the Lord be your shelter today in the storm you face, and allow Him to fill your soul with true, abiding peace.
“Let God’s promises shine on your problems.” –Corrie ten Boom
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