By Joel Ryan, Crosswalk.com
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. – Colossians 3:15
The world is a scary, unpredictable place. Christian or not, we are all affected by fear and uncertainty in our lives in different ways. But if you think fear, worry, and anxiety are merely the products of our time, look no further than stories from the Bible for perspective.
Remember the 12 disciples? These guys were Jesus’ best friends and closest followers. And even after seeing Jesus perform countless miracles, they went into full-blown panic mode when a storm threatened to sink their tiny boat on the Sea of Galilee. They even bolted when soldiers came to arrest Jesus.
Abraham, a man known for his faith, somehow misplaced that signature faith when the Pharaoh of Egypt showed interest in his beautiful wife Sarah and threatened to take her for himself.
The army of Israel, equipped with swords and spears and God’s promises, trembled in their boots (or sandals) at the size and ferocity of Goliath, who taunted Israel with the Bible’s first trash talk.
And even Elijah, having just witnessed God rain fire down from heaven, retreated to the wilderness to escape the death threats of Jezebel and King Ahab.
Do you see a pattern here?
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Fear and Anxiety Will Try to Threaten Your Peace
Left unchecked, fear and anxiety in any season can cripple anyone’s life. But whether it’s the stress caused by present struggles, worry brought on by the uncertainty of the future, or the fear of change, we are not created to be ruled by fear, worry, or anxiety. As the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Thankfully, God offers a lifeline to pull us from the ocean of fear that rages in and all around us.
He doesn’t promise us a life free of pain or hardship, but he does provide the strength to endure any struggle, the hope to persevere through any season, and the peace to overcome any fear. That peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7), and the inner calm and confidence that go with it, can be found in his son, Jesus Christ.
But how do you actually allow the peace of Christ to rule in your heart (Colossians 3:15) when life is most stressful and fear covers our world?
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1. Recognize the Prince of Peace Has Already Overcome Fear
Even though the world is broken and chaotic, from the beginning, God had a plan to redeem his creation and bring about a new and lasting peace through his son, the prophesied “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
Yes, the world around us is messy and chaotic. Your circumstances may be unresolved. You may be dealing with your own perfect storm right now. However, right now, you also have the ability to experience true peace, confidence, and serenity through Jesus Christ, who has overcome sin and death, fear and despair (John 16:33).
The peace of Christ doesn’t come from running from your problems, ignoring them, or focusing on personal comforts. Because Jesus Christ lives within you, his spirit of peace is also at work within you. Sometimes, inviting peace to rule in your heart begins with choosing and declaring who’s in charge: fear or Jesus Christ?
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2. Ask for Peace because Jesus Understands Your Fears and Hears Your Prayers
There is no one better equipped to help you overcome fear in your life than one who understands exactly what you’re going through. Jesus Christ can not only conquer your fears, he can relate to them because he experienced everything you’re feeling during his time on earth. (Philippians 2:5-8).
Therefore, don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to go to God with your worries and fears. Christians don’t win any prizes from God or the world by pretending to be stronger or more fearless than the rest. They certainly don’t win the battles they try and fight on their own.
If you’re frightened, tell him. If you’re scared, run to him. If you’re weak, ask for help. What’s wrong with admitting our weakness when it gives Christ the power to be strong on our behalf? (2 Corinthians 12:9-11) Accepting that you are not in control is one step to surrendering to the authority of one who is.
Paul wrote, “do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
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3. Make Jesus Your Only Rock—He is Stronger than Your Circumstances Anyway
Jesus told the story of a man who built his house on sand. When the rains came, the waves washed his house away because it was built on a poor foundation. Not so for the one who built his house on solid rock (Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:46-49).
The wisdom here is that we are only as strong as our foundations, and if our confidence and peace are anchored to things that can be taken or destroyed, our confidence and peace will go where they go.
Tough times remind us that finances can be lost, homes can be damaged or destroyed, possessions can be stolen, relationships can be broken, leaders can fail, and even our bodies can be susceptible to sickness, injury, and death.
These are all tragic losses, ones that warrant a measure of sadness and grief; and Christians should be empathetic to those who are suffering and grieve with those who are grieving (Romans 12:15), helping them get back on their feet however we can.
David understood, in the crazy journey of life, that God was the ultimate source of strength and peace because he was often all he had.
This is why David compared God’s presence to that of a rock, a shield, and a mighty fortress (Psalms 125:1). The good news is, the same Rock who sustained David is the same Rock who takes care of you today. Therefore, learn to anchor your hope and peace to Jesus Christ, the Rock of our salvation, and you will not be shaken when the storms of life comes.
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4. Believe That Jesus is <em>With</em> You in the Storm
It’s one thing to know that you can cry out to God in the midst of your storms; it’s another thing to know that he’s actually right there by your side through it all.
Knowing that you are never alone is, in and of itself, a promise of peace. Inviting peace to rule in your heart begins by inviting the heart of Christ to rule in your life. “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)
You are never alone!
So when the bully of fear threatens to steal your peace and pickpocket your joy, remember that you have an even bigger friend by your side who won’t let that happen. Sometimes, you just have to let him fight for you (Psalm 46:10).
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5. Focus on What God Is Doing and Wants to Do in Your Life
There are a lot of things that can distract us and turn our attention away from God, keeping us focused on fear. It all depends on what we choose to focus on and what voices we choose to listen to.
The apostle Peter had the unique opportunity to walk on water with Jesus in the middle of a pretty crazy storm. However, when Peter turned his eyes away from Jesus and instead focused on the waves crashing around him, he began to sink (Matthew 14:22-33). The same can happen in our lives.
David didn’t slay Goliath because he saw a deadly giant in front of him. Knowing that God was with him and for him, he saw an opportunity for God to do the incredible (1 Samuel 17).
If God has provided for you in the past, he will provide for you again. When you focus on what God has done, is doing, can do, and wants to do in your life, you will see miracles where others see mountains, victory where others see defeat, and peace where others have surrendered to fear.
Look for where God is already moving and doing the incredible. You will not be disappointed by what you find.
Paul reminds us, “finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)
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6. Let Go and Learn to Trust in God’s Power
To know and maintain peace in your life, sometimes you just have to let go and trust God, accepting that he is in control even when you are not. As Scripture reminds us:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33-34)
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7)
Whatever you’re going through or experiencing right now, remember that God is in control, his power is unlimited, and he has a plan, and that plan is ultimately good. Romans 8:28 says, “and we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
God wants to do something incredible in your life. So don’t be afraid to pray with expectation and never hesitate to worship God in the midst of the storm. When his name is elevated, so is your spirit. His peace will soon become your peace.
A Prayer for Peace in Troubling Times
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
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