A few years ago on New Years Day, I emerged out of the shower and said to Julia, ‘How do you fancy going to the New Year sales at the Trafford Centre?’ She thought I’d slipped and banged my head in the shower! A few hours later we were in the midst of heaving crowds, hustle, bustle, noise, and frustrated, sometimes angry people fighting over items that were supposed to be discounted. The Christmas spirit had soon evaporated!
For many of us our lives feel like we’re constantly in the midst of those crowds. It just feels like our lives are full of constant demands, pressure, stress, anxiety, worry and noise which is occasionally silenced by a week or two away in the sun (if we are that fortunate!).
How do you find peace in a noisy relentless world where so many people and so many mediums are seeking your attention?
How do you still that troubled mind?
How do you practice inner peace?
IS IT POSSIBLE TO ‘REST IN PEACE’ WITHOUT DYING?
Do you have to wait until you die to finally ‘rest in peace?’
The bible appears to suggest this is more than possible:
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
Jesus, the Prince of Peace, said:
“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. (John 14:27)
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus……And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:7-9)
“For he himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14)
So it must be possible in the midst of busy and stressful lives to retain a measure of peace.
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY ‘PEACE?’
The Greek word for peace is ‘eirene’ taken from the Jewish word ‘shalom‘.
We often misunderstand peace as being an absence of war or a cessation of hostilities (whether at home/war) – but Shalom has a much wider meaning. It encapsulates a vision of society characterised by justice, righteousness and tranquillity.
The word describes serenity, well-being, happiness and perfect harmony (right relationships with one another). Disharmony, arguments, strife etc. are a great source of grief, unhappiness & disease (dis-ease). In fact ‘shalom‘ was a greeting that conveyed with it more than a desire for freedom from trouble!
PEACE IS CRITICAL TO A HEALTHY SOUL
In order to succeed in life we simply must pursue peace & live at peace with ourselves and others!
“Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth.” (Psalm 34:12-16 & 1 Peter 3:10-11)
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30)
Lack of peace manifests in all kinds of different ways
Frustration, irritability, anger, dissatisfaction, striving, envy, stress, fear, sleeplessness, confusion, lack of focus & concentration, illness, lethargy, introversion, obsession and ignoring the needs of others around us are all signs that we may have lost our peace.
WE LOSE OUR PEACE WHEN….
Anxious & fearful about our circumstances
We can begin to lose our peace when things start to go pear-shaped and we experience things such as illness, study or work pressures, loss of job or income, bereavement, a marriage or relationship ending, aging, an unexpected diagnosis or family problems and concerns. Sadly life on occasions hits us with several things at once. It can all become too much.
NB. All of us experience fear and anxiety at times. Satan’s arsenal includes fears, worries, despondency, despair, doubts and self-pity – every one robs us of peace and leaves us troubled in side.
Someone offends us, rejects us, ill treats us or lets us down badly…
It can become so easy to dwell on what has happened and then harbour unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness or desire payback. The result is a loss of peace.
We simply will not let go of the past
I’ve seen this so often in ministry. The inability to be able to let go and move on destroys peace and often the person who has succumbed to this subtle plan of the enemy is not even aware.
We want something but we can’t get it!
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.” (James 4:1-2)
Often this can be a job, promotion, material thing or not being recognised or appreciated – the result is that we strive and strive to make things happen. We huff & puff and lose our peace.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:6-10)
We lose our peace when we’re not going on with God as a believer.
As someone who spent my younger years playing at being a Christian and having a foot in both camps I know what an unhappy place that is.
‘There is no peace in the border lands. The halfway Christian is a torment to himself and of no benefit to others.’ (Unknown)
Are you living there?
We lose our peace when we keep doing what we know is wrong!
Disobedience is one sure way of losing our peace…..is God on your case about something right now?! Have you lost your peace?
We lose our peace when we’re living life to the MAX!
We are the “have it all, do it all, go to it all, achieve it all generation!”
We fill our lives to the brim and wonder why we have lost our peace?!
Tragically we often leave little time for the….Prince of Peace.
We lose our peace when we simply overstretch ourselves
Some of us take on too much and have unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved in a day or a week and then get stressed out….we must learn to create margin!
“Marginless is being thirty minutes late to the doctors office because you were twenty minutes late getting out of the hairdressers, because you were ten minutes late dropping the kids off at school because the car ran out of petrol two blocks from the filling station and you forgot your purse. Margin on the other hand, is having breath left at the top of staircase, Money left at the end of the month, and sanity left at the end of adolescence!’
We lose our peace when we’re not fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives
Charles Colson said this; ‘Knowing that we are fulfilling God’s purpose is the only thing that really gives rest to the restless human heart.’
We lose our peace sometimes when we are about to make the wrong decision!
As a young man I was engaged to a lovely girl but I had no peace. In fact, I would ask the woman who later became my wife (Julia) how you knew if you’d found the right one?! This lack of peace is brought by the Holy Spirit whose role it is to guide us into all truth and help us make the right decisions.
He is not called our counsellor for nothing.
He is that still small voice! Learn to recognise His voice….
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)
I would suggest that there are at least four areas to focus on in order to discover and maintain peace in a noisy world:
1. Find Peace With God
“God cannot give us happiness & peace apart from himself because it is not there! There is no such thing!” (CS Lewis).
I suggest there are many people who believe that God exists. They have a sense that there is a supreme being who holds the universe together. They may even believe in eternity and realise that at some point, before they die, that they need to “get right with God.” I’ve heard people say that they couldn’t settle, something wasn’t right, something was missing from their lives and that they had noticed that the Christians they knew had something they didn’t have…..a special peace about them…
Have you made your peace with God? The Bible says ‘For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’ (Rom. 3:23)
How about inviting Jesus (God’s Son), ‘The Prince of Peace’ to enter your world, forgive you of all your sin and wrongdoing, wipe the slate of your life clean and give you a new peace-filled and God blessed start. Imagine if you could start again? Imagine if you could have a new start, a new beginning and a new purpose in life? That’s what happens when we come to faith. Do it today and you will experience a peace that you have never ever experienced before and a love that knows no bounds.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)
If you’ve done that – the next thing to do is find a great Bible believing church and start attending. Let the Pastor know what you’ve done.
2. Spend time with the Prince of Peace
Joyce Meyer said, “Before Jesus died – He willed us His peace. He wants us to have peace – peace in the morning, at night and at all times in between. Peace is our inheritance & it’s a wonderful possession!”
We experience the peace of God when we spend time in His presence.
When we focus our hearts and minds on Him:
“Let be and be still, and know (recognise and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10 AMP)
There simply is no substitute for spending time with the Prince of Peace. Somehow we must find time within our busy schedules to slow down, be still, and enjoy His presence. Everything we need for each day and each activity is available in His presence. Jesus said “apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
The promise of God is this:
“You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.” (Isaiah 26:3 AMP)
I love that. We must somehow find time daily to pause for a moment and be still and really know that He is God!!
We experience the peace of God when we let go of what troubles us
“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:8)
This is my biggest stress buster! God did not create us to carry a lot of burdens and stress and every time I pour out my heart to Him – strivings stop and peace returns. Cast all your anxieties onto Him for He cares for you! (1 Peter 5:7)
We experience the peace of God when we worship Him
I’ve discovered that when I’m troubled and have lost my peace that worship not only brings me into His presence, but also gives me a fresh perspective on my situation. We need more worship music in our homes which can easily become a negative and stress-filled place rather than the peaceful abode that God promises:
“My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” (Isaiah 32:18)
We experience the peace of God when we focus on the right things
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2)
Clearly we need to focus or hearts and minds on Him but also make sure that we are not dwelling on the wrong things.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:7-9)
Rejoice! Pray! Thank! Think positively! Think right! The result is that peace will grow (fruit of Spirit!) and you will rise above all those other things that cause you to lose your peace. Pray for peace each day!
We experience the peace of God when we focus on His Word
I believe there are certain promises, quotes and prayers that are just right for particular seasons of our lives. Identify them and then stand on them during those challenging seasons. They will enable you to stand and stand in peace.
I came across this quote in my reading notes the other day and it so helped me through a crazy period of quite stressful and demanding ministry:
“Do what you can in peace, surrender the rest to God, and watch the “impossible” fall into place.” (author unknown)
3. Guard Your Inner World
Thomas a Kempis the German monk said in 1420; ‘First keep the peace within yourself, then you can also bring peace to others.’
Our world around us is noisy, relentless and attention seeking. We are constantly on the go and it appears like there is nothing we can do to stop it and create some space and experience some peace. We must maintain that inner world that is often described as our heart or soul.
Here are some suggestions for cultivating and maintaining peace:
- Turn off notifications – do you really need to be notified every time you receive an email, social media comment or breaking news?!
- Cut down on the news – it’s all pretty negative and Brexit will eventually happen once they’ve stopped arguing. You don’t need to be aware of everything.
- Find a place where you can be alone and relax.
- Create some margin between appointments, scheduled events, collecting school kids. Try to slow the day down a little bit where possible. So many of us try and achieve too much in one day. Previous generations walked everywhere – we rush everywhere in our cars or on public transport. There is no room for re-creation. Review your life and maybe cut some activities out (parents – your kids don’t need to go to every available club and activity!)
- Rest – take a break! I’ve discovered that when I work too hard for a sustained period of time I become anxious, stressed and lose my peace.
- Have a day off. Do nothing at all or do something you enjoy. Re-create yourself! There will always be a “to do” list to finish. It never ends. Maintain your peace.
- Laugh more. Smile more. Watch a favourite TV comedy or film. Actively seek to put the fun and joy back in your life. Don’t get too serious! Life is for living. I love the Puritan insight, “Joy is peace dancing & peace is joy resting. A sweet and powerful river flowing through your life.”
- Sleep well. So many people become worried and anxious as soon as they lie down to sleep at night. I’m sure the enemy picks on us at this moment when we’re tired, weary and particular vulnerable. Don’t let him win. Resist Him. Do not dwell on what causes you anxiety. Let this be your bedtime declaration:
“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)
Keeping the peace in your own heart is far more important than being able to manage the lack of peace all around you.
4. Pursue peace in all your relationships
The bible is absolutely clear about this:
“God has called us to live in peace.” (1 Corinthians 7:15)
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:14-15)
How can you achieve this?
Make sure that your own attitudes and hearts are right
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3)
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you
“Father increase the fruit of the Spirit in my life today – more love, joy, peace, grace, patience, gentles, kindness, goodness…..”
Many of us will have been around people who are challenging. Their behaviour, attitudes, selfishness and negativity may cause us to lose our peace. Don’t let them! Make a choice! Don’t judge them, don’t allow their behaviour to spoil your day and don’t try and change them, but rather – focus on being as kind, considerate and gracious you can be and watch what happens….You might be surprised!
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
(Luke 6:27, 28)
“Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble [aiming to be above reproach] in the sight of everyone. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
(Romans 12:16-18 AMP)
Go and speak to that person who you have fallen out with or who has fallen out with you. You will be better for it and so will those around you but more importantly peace will be restored.
Be a peacemaker
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
People who have peace with God and are experiencing the peace of God – cannot be anything else but peacemakers!! It’s a distinguishing mark of a Christian! Peacemakers are greatly needed in families, church’s, communities and workplaces. Perhaps you are aware of a relationship that has broken down. Be a peacemaker.
“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:18)
“Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:39)
Jesus spoke to the storm. He was able to release peace because he was peace. You too, as a believer in Christ, can have this peace and then speak it into your circumstances. This is the presence of Christ working in and through you…..
Perhaps right now you need to say “BE STILL!” to your storm and to…
- All those competing voices
- All those anxious thoughts
- All those stress filled situations
- All those threatening words
- All those future worries
I’m praying for you right now that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
If you’ve enjoyed this post you might like to check out my book entitled ‘Imagine’ that is all about trusting God based on the amazing promise in Proverbs 3:5-6. Imagine is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and other major book sellers worldwide.
One recent Amazon reviewer said, “This is an incredibly powerful book written as if the author is chatting to you about his own life, struggles and experiences during his ongoing walk with God. It is a very real and honest book with bible verses to back up what the author is sharing about. Personally this book is having a big impact on me and my faith in God. I would recommend to anyone to buy this book if you want to deepen your relationship with God at whatever stage you are in your walk. Imagine the impact this book could have on your life….”
Another reviewer said ‘A wonderful story of faith and dedication overcoming all obstacles. Full of practical advise and wise instruction. The book invites the reader to ‘dream dreams’ and to live out vision with tenacity and determination. A good hearty read.’ (Pastor Paul Hallam)