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Finding Peace in Troubled Times



Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.

Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27 NASB

“Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take

My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall

 find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28,29 NASB

     It is no secret that we are living in a time where there is trouble and upheaval all over the world.  There are economic challenges, relational challenges, sicknesses, increased numbers of death, unusual diseases, wars, natural disasters, political unrest and moral decay all over the world.  As disturbing as these issues are, the things that rob us of our peace the most are the daily personal challenges.

     As the disciples sat in the upper room listening to Jesus, they did not know how much their lives were about to change.  Their hopes and dreams were about to be shattered.  Jesus, in anticipation of this, speaks the words recorded in the above verse, John 14:27.

     He said that He was leaving them with peace.  It was a peace He would give to them – a peace unique from what the world offers.  He gave this promise to them in advance of the turmoil that was to come.  In this article, I will present what this promise means, its relevance to us and how we can experience it even in troubled times.

Peace Defined

     The Greek word for peace in John 14:27 is “eirēnē” from the root word meaning “to join”-- thus meaning “one,” “peace,” “quietness,” “rest” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance).  It communicates a sense of rest with the consequence of contentment (Vine’s Expository Dictionary).

      A synonym of “eirēnē” (peace) is found in Matthew 11:28, 29.  There Jesus gives an invitation to the weak and weary to come to Him and He will give them “rest.”  He continues in verse 29 to say, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you shall find “rest” for your souls.

      The synonym to peace here is rest.  It is the Greek word “anapausis” which means “intermission,” or “free from torment.”  (Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible). In verse 28, Jesus is saying that He would give this rest. Just as in John 14:27, He declared Himself to be the giver of peace.  Verse 29 of Matthew 11 reveals how this rest can be attained.

      It is attained by becoming “yoked” with Christ.  To become “yoked with Him is to become joined or in oneness or unity with Him. Oneness with Christ restores wholeness to one’s being – body, soul and spirit thus providing a sense of peace as expressed in the Hebrew word “Shalom” which signifies “wholeness” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary). 

      In the benedictory statement in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, God is referred to as “the God of Peace” who sanctifies us (sets apart as holy) and preserves the believer in wholeness of body, soul and spirit.

     When we receive this peace, we experience rest.  A relationship with Jesus is the source, and He delights to give it to us. 

      In John 14:27, Jesus added that the peace He gives is not like what the world gives.  Let’s explore the meaning of this contrast.

The Peace the World Gives

     To clear up any confusion and misplaced expectations, Jesus distinguishes His peace from that which the world gives. To begin our exploration of the peace the world gives, let’s consider what may have been going through the minds of the disciples regarding the concept of peace.  What was going on in their world from which they would have wanted peace?  It was the occupation and tyranny of Rome.  They wanted political freedom that would have spawned economic and sociological freedom and consequently peace of mind. 

     This is the peace that the world offers. It is external,  utilizing negotiations or military action that provides a cessation of wars, tyranny and violence. Today it may also include vacations, retreats, escapes to nature, entertainment, and for some, relocating to exotic or foreign lands.  There is nothing wrong with any of these things.  They are things we can enjoy.  We just need to understand that the peace they provide is temporary and conditional because they are dependent upon external circumstances that are subject to change.  Turmoil can come into any of those situations and obliterate the peace that they offer.

The Peace that Jesus Gives

   The peace that Jesus gives in NOT dependent upon external circumstances and can exist even in the midst of turmoil.  It is an internal peace that endures in any situation.  This is seen in Jesus’ life as He slept in a boat that was being tossed about in a life threatening storm.  Everyone was panicking trying to keep the boat afloat and Jesus was sleeping.  Anyone who has ever been on a boat of any size knows that Jesus had to have felt the boat being tossed about but He was not disturbed by it (Mark 4:37-39 KJV).  He had an internal peace and assurance of their safety.  When they aroused Him, He released that peace as He said, “Peace be still.”

     Just as God who is light spoke light into existence, so Jesus who is the Prince of Peace spoke “peace” over the waves and wind and it became calm.  Perfect lasting peace is found only in Christ and it has been made available to us through Him.  On the cross, Jesus bore our sin, sickness, sorrow and grief (Isaiah 53:4, 5).  This provided for us two dimensions of peace.  They are peace with God (Romans 5:1) and the peace of God (Philippians 4:7; Colossians 3:15). 

     Peace with God is the result of Jesus’ sacrifice. This satisfied God’s holiness by paying the debt incurred by our sin, thus bridging the gap between us and God (John 3:16).  All we have to do is receive this payment personally for the forgiveness of our own sins.  This bridges the gap between us and God and allows us to become part of His family (John 1:12) and partakers of His nature (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21).  Once we place our faith in Christ, this peace is permanent because it was solely conditioned upon what Christ did on the cross (Ephesians 2:8, 9). 

   The peace of God, however, though always available is not always experienced.  It requires greater participation on our part.  The peace of God is like Jesus sleeping in the boat.  It resides within us in the person of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23) who has been given to us at salvation (Ephesians 1:13, 14).  It is up to us to make room for Him to manifest His nature in our lives.  There are at least three basic keys to access and maintain this peace even in troubled times.

Keys to Peace Access and Maintenance

   First, be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18, 19).  By faith invite Him to the “party” of your life.  Yield your will to Him.  Confess your sins and submit to His Lordship.  Set your mind and affections on Christ through worship and thanksgiving.  We are commanded to do this in Ephesians 5:18.  Then you will find yourself flooded with the Holy Spirit’s nature of peace, love, joy, etc. (Galatians 5:22, 23). 

  Secondly, renew your mind with the Word of God through study and meditation.  Let the Word of God be your meditation (Colossians 3:16) in your idle moments.  Take a passage of Scripture or a verse, study it and turn it over in your mind considering its meaning and its implication in your daily life.  It is the word of God that transforms us (Romans 12:2).  Meditation on the Word of God, with obedience, has the promise of prosperity and success as well as peace (Joshua 1:8, 9; Ps 1:2, 3).

   Jesus invites us to yoke up with Him and learn of Him (Matthew 11:28, 29) with the promise of rest for our souls. We learn of Him through study of the Bible.  It is the written revelation of God which includes Jesus and the Holy Spirit, for they are one. 

      Third, you must discipline your thoughts. Philippians 4:8 tells us what to think about so that we may remain in God’s peace.  They are those things that are honorable, true, right, pure, lovely, attractive, any excellence, or anything worthy of praise. 

       Don’t just let your thoughts wander. Direct them. Bring them under the subjection of the Word of God and the Lordship of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).  Turn negative thoughts around to opportunities of prayer.  Let mercy and grace towards others flood your thoughts rather than judgments and complaints.

   These are important keys, but they will only work if they are combined with faith.  Colossians 2:6 says, “As you have received Christ Jesus so walk in Him.”  In other words, the same way we received Christ –by faith (Ephesians 2:8, 9) is the way we live out the Christian life.  It is a daily moment by moment walk of faith.  It is a trust and dependence upon God for everything in our lives.  Faith is the shield in the armor of God metaphor in Ephesians 6:11-19, that wards off Satan’s fiery darts – fear, offence, anxiety, insecurity, etc.

   Start each day by determining to yield to the Holy Spirit, meditate on the word of God, and discipline your thoughts.  You will then take peace into your situations rather than trying to get peace out of your situations.  Peace will become a lifestyle so that when trouble arises peace will be a natural flow like Jesus sleeping in the boat.  Let peace be the umpire of your heart (Colossians 3:15 AMP).

Conclusion

   Peace is our inheritance as believers in Christ.  Lay hold of it and don’t let it go no matter what is happening and grab some joy and love to go with it.  Always remember what the word of God says – “Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers them out of them all.” (Psalms 34:19 KJV)  Also, Jesus said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)   Let’s pray.

Prayer

   Lord God, thank You for all that You have done to ensure that I can have peace even in the midst of trouble.  I repent of my fear and unbelief and I put my confidence in You, right now.  I choose to delight in You as I give my concerns (name them) to you.  Thank You for Your peace.  I receive it now as You promised.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright © 2008-2015 Shermaine Jones


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