In the Bible, three different kinds of peace are talked about in reference to God. Peace WITH God is the peace that comes about when we find ourselves no longer enemies of God… but in fact, beloved by God. That is a grace given at the moment of redemption. It is the peace that is arrived at in a court of law when a suit is settled. This peace may or may not be felt by us emotionally.
There is a peace FROM God that comes and can occasionally be experienced by all people. At Christmas, we hear the angels proclaim the coming of this peace, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE toward men….” This is what is known in theological circles as a “common” grace. It is a reminder… an evidence of God’s pleasure. It is a momentary, circumstantially-driven lack of conflict… lack of warfare… lack of turmoil. We can occasionally feel that peace when circumstances allow. It is a “teaser,” if you will, of an abiding peace that is available toward those with whom God is pleased. But it is fleeting, and explained by the alignment of events so that we feel happy.
But there is another peace… one that we do feel. It is the peace OF God that comes to those who belong to Him… when they fulfill the preconditions of the Scriptures. In this instance, when we “have no anxiety about anything, but in everything with thanksgiving, let our requests be made known to God….” We choose, by the act of our volition and will… to release our anxiety in obedience to His Word. Then, instead of living in the turmoil of anxious and worrisome thoughts, we turn our energy toward thanksgiving and prayer. And THEN, “the peace of God, which surpasses our understanding, will keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
We release anxiety… decisively and ruthlessly… not tolerating a shred of worry… and turn our effort instead… again, deliberately, decisively and ruthlessly… toward giving THANKS for what God is going to do to handle our circumstance and by prayer and supplication let our requests (or, tell our concerns) to God. And when we do this, PEACE is God’s gift to us.
Let’s flip it around. If we DON’T have peace, then either a). We haven’t fully and completely released our worries and/or b). We are not letting our requests be known to God by prayer and supplication.
God does not desire for His children to live in anxiety and worry. Jesus did say the non-believing world “chases after” all these things. They continually “fall to pieces” with worry about food and clothing and daily necessities and making ends meet. But God’s people are to be known, not by anxiety… but by PEACE. It marks us as belonging to Him, and actually is a way to bear witness TO His care.
A child who has a loving father who cares for their needs, but who would go door-to-door begging for food to eat from their neighbors is saying something about his father. The child, in essence is saying to the neighbors, “my father does not take care of me. He doesn’t care about my need for food or clothing or shelter.” Now if the father was neglectful and uncaring of his son’s needs, the boy SHOULD be begging and telling other people about him. But if he cares for his needs, the boy is doing a great disservice and is discrediting a good father who really does care.
It’s a silly illustration, but it’s exactly what we do when we refuse to trust our Father for His provision when, all the while, He is abundantly and generously supplying our needs. Does your life bear witness to a good, good Father who cares constantly for your needs… or does your anxiety say “I don’t have a Father who loves and cares for my needs?”
- Based on your thoughts and communications the past few days and hours, what have you really been saying you believe about God?
- Do you know by experience the “peace of God?” Is it something that “keeps your heart and mind in Christ,” or do you continually take your “heart and mind” away and deposit it into anxiety?
- How can your use of gratitude change the way you process anxiety? Can you be thankful for how God will take care of you even when you aren’t yet sure about the outcome.