If you're anything like me, pursuit of peace has likely been an ongoing theme in your life.
There have been so many times throughout my personal history where I just wanted peace so badly and ironically enough those always seemed like the times when it was most out of reach.
So often this was due to the circumstances of my life – it was finals week, I was preparing to study abroad, I was moving to a new city has an engaged young woman trying to find a job, I was a new mom with a baby and a business and no idea how to take care of either very well. I have lived much of my life to this point the way that most people do: responding reactively to what happens in my life, hoping God will override what’s going on and supernaturally inject different feelings into me, because I'm just letting thoughts and feelings come as they may.
But several years ago I read the book “Searching For and Maintaining Peace“ by Jacques Philippe.
I had a lot of feelings when I read it, but mostly I think I was angry.
How dare he posit that peace was attainable in the midst of anything? That just felt rude.
I could think of at least 50 different scenarios where I could not imagine there being any possibility of having peace and it was like he just swept all that under the rug and forgot about it. Rude.
And then I reread the book 2 years ago, and this time I wasn’t angry – I was curious. Could this really be possible? What could my life look like if I really lived this out? And instead of anger and resentment my heart started to fill with a sense of possibility: maybe I could have peace, no matter what was going on.
The last two years have been marked by my pursuits of that reality, and I have been so blown away by what I have found.
It turns out, he’s right.
Peace is attainable, not just when times are good but also when they’re not.
And this peace really rests on two things:
- my openness to trusting God and
- my ability to manage my own thoughts through the tools God has given me in the moment.
That’s actually it. It’s simple, but not easy.
But it’s so, so worth it.
This month we’re taking on the lie that peace depends on circumstances, and we’re going to really focus on the “thoughts in the moment“ piece of the puzzle by memorizing Isaiah 41:10: "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
I just learned recently that there was a study of people that have willingly died for their faith in Jesus versus people who broke at the last moment. The study was trying to identify what the piece of the puzzle was that made some people take one path and everyone else take the other.
Interestingly enough, the dividing factor was not amount of time as a Christian, or age, geographic location, or anything else: it was simply whether or not they had memorized scripture.
If that’s not convicting to you about the importance of memorizing scripture I don’t know what would be.
Isaiah 41:10 is the kind of thought we want to think in these stressful, disquieting, and frustrating circumstances that seem to steal our peace. Choosing this thought over any other is a massive first step towards living in peace instead of remaining captive to fear.