“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” -John 14: 26
I might wax a little retrospective as I post this last blog post of 2019. So fair warning.
I have learned and grown so much this year. Sometimes I feel like the person I am now, and the one I was last January are almost two different personalities. It’s probably not that extreme, but a lot has changed inside me, and I am grateful for all of it.
My word for this year was peace. I think I had mentioned that, at the beginning of this year. I want to write a little about what I’ve learned about peace, and the impact this word has had on my life.
I think I’ve learned more about what peace is not, to be honest…
- Peace is not circumstantial. “These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
- This has long been my favorite verse. I love the honesty of this promise. The Bible never promises smooth sailing, prosperity, easy living. This verse promises tribulation—n. Great affliction, trial, or distress; suffering: synonym: trial. n. An experience that tests one’s endurance, patience, or faith. synonym: burden. n. A state of affliction or oppression; suffering; distress. So let there be no mistake: we are going to suffer. But then the rock solid confidence that says, “but be happy! I have overcome it all.”
2. Peace is not worry or fear. “Don’t worry about anything; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 4:6-7)
Isn’t that an awe inspiring promise? I feel like I should take my shoes off…this is holy ground. And isn’t it beautiful, how it always comes back to thankfulness? What if I would remember to thank God as I bring all my fears and worries to him, requesting all the desires of my heart, but always thanking him as well…isn’t peace a guarantee according to this verse? And don’t forget the part where he says he will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. God wants to keep us. He’s not letting us go voluntarily. We belong to him.
3. Peace is not anger. “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring peace in the end.” (Proverbs 29:11)
This one hit me in the gut. I like venting. It does make me feel better. There are feelings of justification and vindication when you vent to the right person…and I do think there is a place for going to someone who is wiser with a situation that makes you angry and just letting it all hang out. We all need that one safe, wise place we can go to, especially if they’re not scared to disagree and tell us we’re overreacting. But if I’m very honest, the more I think about it, the more I question the act of venting…especially if I’m venting about a person. Is there really that much benefit to it? Enough that it makes it worth the risk of displeasing God with gossip? I don’t know. Maybe if vent we must, we should vent to God instead…he’s definitely a safe place, and he has a way of cutting through the fog of helpless frustration to the very heart of the matter. He’s done it with me multiple times, in a way that sweeps aside all the BS I’m spouting and brings me face to face with truth. It’s not fun. It’s humbling, and beautiful though. He also guides us to the path of forgiveness, and that’s always the path to peace.
Ironically, or maybe it isn’t ironic to anyone but me, this year has been the most unpeaceful of my life. At the beginning of this year, I got tossed into a storm…no, I walked into a war. Willingly. This goes against everything I hold dear in life. My peace-loving, people-pleasing self wants nothing more than to pretend the world is one big, happy place, those in authority are trying their best to do what is best for everyone, and everyone is basically good. If there is a war, I don’t want any part of it. I normally hide and hope things blow over, and if I ignore it for long enough, it’ll hopefully go away. I don’t like conflict, and taking any kind of stand, especially a controversial one, is very difficult for me. I just want people to like me. 😛
This year has changed my default personality in some ways. The truth I uncovered along with the knowledge that God wants me to shed light on this truth, despite the very real possibility of being misunderstood, has led me to be more confrontational than I’ve ever been before. To speak when I’d rather stay silent. Finding a balance has come with so many mistakes and things I’ve had to repent for, but God is being patient with me and I am learning… I’m so far from where I want to be….but I’ve come a long way, and I’m so thankful for what God is doing in my life…especially where he’s showing me my pride and selfishness and helping me repent of the things that hold me back from working in my life, or using me properly.
I think what I’ve learned most about peace, and being able to find it, even at the darkest, most turbulent time, is that God is where it’s at. I know that’s kind of stating the obvious, but sometimes, the obvious needs stating. When you’re in a war and it looks like darkness is winning, go to God. When you’re fighting a fight that looks completely hopeless, go to God. When you’re trembling under a load of worry and fear, no matter how well-founded, go to God. When you’re so angry you can’t see straight, and the outrage at the injustice of this world makes you want to scream, go to God.
And He will give you peace.