Editors Note: This article is written by BCC Counselor, Donna Hart as part of our series on Pursuing Peace. In this series, our counselors are unpacking how to find peace in all areas of your life.
Cultivating peace is not just a choice to “be still in the Lord,” hoping it will suddenly fall upon us. Experiencing peace is learned as Philippians 4:11 teaches us: “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”
In the workplace and in our personal lives we often set for ourselves a vision and goals for the year. God also has set a vision and goals for our lives. His vision is that we would be at peace. Philippians 4:7 states, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
As with joy, peace for the Apostle Paul is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). It is especially associated with God and His relationship with His people. Here it is called “the peace of God” because God is “the God of peace,” the God who dwells in total shalom (wholeness and well-being) and who gives such shalom to His people. It is the “peace of God” that transcends all understanding. God’s peace transcends the merely human, unbelieving mind, which can be full of anxiety because it cannot think higher than itself.
The God to whom we pray and offer thanksgiving, whose ways are higher than our ways, is also trustworthy; our prayer is accompanied by His peace. That is not because He answers according to our desires, but because His peace totally transcends our merely human ways of perceiving the world. Peace comes because prayer is an expression of trust, and as God’s people we do not need to have it all figured out to trust Him.
Pursuing Peace by Meditating on Truth
How do we learn to be content and at peace? It takes work. It requires that we are in control of our thinking as Romans 12:2 explains, “And do not be conformed this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
We are not to allow our thinking to control us, but we are to be in control of what is on our minds. Romans 1:21 shows us what happens when we let our mind think on whatever it wants: “…they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Peace and contentment are a protection against the strong emotions that take us to anxious and hopeless places.
Isaiah 26:3 gives us an open window to see where God wants to take us: “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.” Trusting in God is the foundation of peace. If we do not trust God we will be unstable in all our ways, and as James 1:6 states, double-minded. To trust God we must know God, and to know God we must know His Word and be obedient to it.
Pursuing Peace by Treasuring God’s Word
John 14:21 gives this foundational truth: “He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” When we know God’s commandments and keep them, then God knows we are committed to our relationship with Him.
When we demonstrate our commitment to Him by being in the Word and obedient to what we learn, then He speaks to us more and more from the Word, grounding us in confident peace. Our relationship with Christ is like a marriage and He wants to know we are committed to our relationship with Him before He starts to reveal Himself more deeply.
According to the Apostle Paul, there is a secret to pulling this all together. It is as Philippians 4:13 proclaims: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” We are to do all things with dependent faith upon the Lord. We are not to walk in independent, self-determined, self-sufficiency, but in resting in and trusting in the Lord.
Pursuing Peace through Steadfast Prayer
How do we get to peace? We must pray. We must pray that God gives us a hunger and thirst for His Word that would never end, that the Holy Spirit will reveal his truth to us, and that we will see the glory of God. We must know the flesh is going to fight us being in the Word (Romans 7:14-25), but we must keep pushing into the Word until it turns from desire to delight.
This is a battle we win because God promises that He is with us, He will not fail us, nor will He forsake us. He calls us to be strong and courageous for He will enable us to be overcomers. May your hearts sing with the Word, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
If we are not connected to the source of peace, we will fail to experience peace. At times, we allow the busyness of life and the disappointment of our circumstances to distract us from spending time with God. Life doesn’t go well, and as a result, we experience a sense that we are missing something.
God instills that sense in us, to remind us to pursue Him. We have a choice at that moment. Will we eliminate the distractions and put boundaries on our busy schedules to connect with God, the source of our peace? God offers abundant peace as we pursue and invest in our relationship with Him. Will you commit to the pursuit of peace?