How easy is it to lose your peace in this world????

There was a point in my life that I could actually never find mine – my family, friends (and exes) will testify to this lol. Moving back to the States on my own and living as a college student solely reliant on financial  aid and three part-time jobs to provide for myself, I was in a constant state of worry. Would I have enough to eat? Would I have enough to go home over break? Would I have enough to survive the winter??? Sometimes there was enough, but other times there was barely enough to go around. I spent a lot of time counting my pennies and running in circles about money.

Then there was school. I think nine times out of ten that I took an exam, I called my father crying in fear that I had failed. I never thought I’d answered the questions well enough or expressed myself clearly enough. No matter how many times I’d excelled before, I’d always find myself in a state of perpertual fear and anxiety.

And while there were a ton of other things in my life (as I am sure there were/are in yours) that caused me to lose it, I recognize that losing your peace isn’t always just about your personal life circumstances, whether it’s sickness, or lack, or fear and anxiety over whatever situation you’re dealing with. Sometimes the simple act of just turning on your TV  can cause you to completely lose it. A shooting here. Beheadings there. Employment rating drops, price hikes, and financial downturns on the horizon can each trigger something in you that causes that hollow-pit-in-your-stomach feeling or a panic that just disrupts your day and ruins your joy.

I talk to a lot of people about faith, and the one thing I’ve found to be a recurring theme in all these conversations is that so many people have lost their peace, and have no idea where to find it or how to get it back.

Well, I found the answer two years ago and my life has never been the same – so, of course, I have to share:

You can’t actually lose your peace. It’s not yours to lose.

Living in peace is simply a choice.

*Gasp*

*Shock*

*Perhaps an eyeroll*

I know what you’re thinking: it’s not that easy! Everything is working against me! My life is a mess! I can’t get anything right! I’m nowhere near where I want to be! I’m working against the clock! The world is a sick and twisted place!

Yes, yes – those may all be facts, but my answer doesn’t change:

Choose peace.

Do you know the Bible mentions peace 429 times in 400 different verses (KJV)? That’s a lot of promises from God about giving us His peace – and doesn’t even include all the times when it mentions His rest (which is essentially His peace). One particular passage that I think speaks most powerfully to God’s promise of peace is in John 14. As Jesus prepares his disciples for his imminent departure, he tells them:

But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you. Peace I leave with you; My[perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]

Jesus literally has given us the source of all peace – the Holy Spirit. And as Christians, the Holy Spirit is right there within us at all times. Jesus told his disciples that he does not give peace as the world does – which means his peace can’t be taken away. You can’t LOSE what is already actively living inside of you. You can choose to ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit. You can choose to worry. You can choose to live in fear. But you can also choose to live in peace! You have access to the peace of God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), but it’s up to you to activate it.

OK. So Peace is a choice. But how do you choose peace?

Before I answer that, let’s think about this for a moment: what causes anxiety, fear, worry and unrest in our lives? The correct answer is, things beyond our control. If there’s a situation in front of you that you actually had the power or ability to fix, you wouldn’t worry about it. You’d just fix it. If you worry when you have a problem that you can actually fix, then that’s a whole other issue altogether lol.

It’s when we face things that are above and beyond us that we find ourselves tied up in knots of worry and fear. If the answer is no, I can’t fix it, then really have two choices: worry, or hand it over to the One who can and be at peace.

I don’t know how or why I ever, when faced with a problem that seemed insurmountable, chose worry over peace!

The reason God commands us not to worry so many times in the Bible is because our worry is actually an insult to His very being. It’s like you know God is God, but you don’t think He’s God right now in this particular situation. You know He can raise the dead, but you don’t think He can heal you. You know He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, but you don’t think He can get you the money for those bills. It’s crazy! You can’t believe there’s a God and at the same time not believe He’s God!

Sometimes it might not even be that we don’t believe God is God – just that we don’t believe He’s God in our situation. Without even asking Him, we write Him off as impotent and try miserably to solve problems that are clearly beyond us.

If you truly believed the situation was beyond your control, and that God is who He says He is, the choice not to worry would be much easier. You would simply choose to cast all your cares upon Him like Jesus tells us to in Matthew 11:

 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Now, making a choice to be at peace doesn’t mean that you go cold turkey on worry all at once and fear never crosses your mind. No, it’s a choice you will have to make almost every single time you reach an impasse in your life. You will have to CHOOSE peace each time. You will have to speak to the fear and doubt in your life and tell it to shut up. And the Holy Spirit will help you just like Jesus promised in John 14 – he will remind you about all the promises God has given you in His Word about whatever situation you’re facing, promises you can cling to and stand on. I encourage you to carry those promises into God’s throne room and present them before Him. Like the story of the widow and the judge that Jesus told in Luke 18, demand your  peace. Peace is your birthright as a child of God!

Whenever I find myself with that gut-wrenching feeling of worry or fear, I quickly check myself, then I check in with God: “Why do I feel this way? Your Word says ______, so this feeling of fear/worry/doubt/anxiety about this situation is invalid. I am trusting You to step in and do what Your Word says You will. I’m trusting that You’re in control and as such, my feelings are just that – feelings. They have no concrete bearing and are not grounded in truth – Your truth. I hand this worry over to You, and in its place I take the peace that You already promised me.” And once I’ve prayed about it, I have indirectly made the choice not to worry about it! It’s literally been taken out of my hands and placed into far more capable ones.

You can have peace even in the midst of the storm.

Please understand that God’s peace is not the absence of problems, so don’t expect that in choosing peace, your problems will automatically go away. What peace is is an acknowledgement of God’s presence and God’s sovreignty in the midst of your problems. It’s what the songwriter was speaking about when he wrote “with Jesus in the boat, I can smile at the storm.” Peace is when, like Peter in those first few moments of stepping out of the boat and onto the water, we keep our eyes focused on Jesus and who we are in affinity to him, and not on the storm raging around us.

If you’re in a situation in your life right now where you can’t seem to find peace no matter where you turn, I want to encourage you to stop whatever you’re trying to do and turn to God – He is the source of your peace. To choose peace is to choose Life – to choose HIM. Meditate on His promises – Psalm 34 is a great place to start. Ask Him to give you the peace He promised.

It’s yours for the taking!