The Way to Worry or the Path of Peace?
by Julia Juillerat
It's something we all desire. And we know that God desires for us to walk in peace with Him in our daily lives. We see this throughout Scripture:
Psalm 29:11 – “The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.”
Isaiah 26:3 – “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
John 14:27 – “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.”
Romans 15:13 – “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.”
Peace is a blessing from God, and it’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. God desires that we walk in and daily experience the abiding peace that He provides. Yet we live in a fallen world where peace is hard to find. Trouble and turmoil work hard to snuff out any pockets of peace.
We shouldn't be surprised by this. Jesus, when preparing His disciples for His return to the Father, said in John 16:33, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Jesus knows this world is a minefield of opportunities for us to forfeit our peace and surrender to anxiety, worry, and fear. Just turn on 24-hour cable news or check the Internet to be bombarded by news of natural disasters, cyber or terrorist attacks, or mass shootings.
As if that is not enough, worries/fears rear their ugly heads in each stage of life. From the young mother's nagging thoughts of “Is my baby developmentally on track?” to the school years and issues with our children’s friends or their performance at school… to wondering if our teens will make good and wise choices…. to college, career and life partner decisions for our young adult children… to the issues of aging: loss of health, loss of a spouse, having enough resources to keep from being a burden to our children.
Rather than trusting in Christ, who anchors our souls to peace in the midst of life's storms, we often allow our hearts to be troubled over these things.
In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6 , Jesus says,“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, . . . which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? (or cubit to his stature).”
During the teen years, my oldest son so wanted to be taller than he was and would try all kinds of antics to try to make himself taller or, at least, to appear taller. All to no avail. We can do nothing to make ourselves taller! And it is just as futile to worry about our lives.
The word translated “anxiety” or “anxious” in Scripture is a Greek word that at its root means, “distracted, to be drawn in different directions.” The concerns of this world, whether legitimate or anticipated, can lead us to a loss of perspective. They can and do distract us. They shift our focus from the Lord to the problem.
Not only can anxiety be distracting, it can be paralyzing as we start to concentrate on what might happen, projecting ourselves into the future where we never seem to remember that the Lord is already there. When we succumb to these anxieties, we surrender God's provision of peace as our minds become fixated on the problem rather than steadfastly trusting in and clinging to the Lord.
When we start to worry, it is helpful to remember passages like Psalm 139:23-24 – “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”
And along with that prayer, we can ask the Lord to help us:
(1) recognize quickly those times we stray into anxiety;
(2) choose not to surrender to anxiety, becoming distracted and drawn away from Him;
(3) and instead, when those anxious feelings rear their ugly heads, we would allow them to drive us to the Lord!
Psalm 34:4 provides the key to move from anxiety to peace:
“I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”
Any time you feel worry or anxiety creeping into your heart threatening to steal your peace, take it as your cue to turn your attention to God. Pray! Thank Him for His goodness and past faithfulness! Trust Him!