Recover Stolen Peace
Heartache consumed Margarite. A mature Christian in her mid-twenties, she had struggled to accept a series of significant losses. In the span of three years, five people close to her died. She understood grieving was a long-term process, but she also knew the depression that gripped her was not healthy. Peace returned gradually after months of laying her sense of hopelessness bare before God.
Just when Margarite regained a healthy emotional balance, another crisis hit. She broke up with the man she thought was “the one.” He had appeared to be a mature Christian and they had a lot in common. Once again, she cried out to God for peace. And once again, peace was elusive. Why, God? I try to do things Your way. If it doesn’t work out, why can’t You at least give me peace about it?
Have you ever felt this way? You try to live in a way that honors God. Then a crisis hits, and the peace promised by the Bible vanishes like a vapor on a hot summer day. Disappointment is a natural emotion. But what do you do when a crisis knocks even a long-term follower of Christ off balance emotionally and spiritually, despite fervent prayers for peace?
Perhaps the problem is a mistaken focus. There’s nothing wrong with feeling disappointed and praying for peace when a crisis occurs. But if peace remains elusive, it may be time to ask yourself these questions:
- Have I made this issue an idol?
If not getting what I asked God for makes me bitter or angry at God, I have raised that request to the level of an idol. Of course, as a “good Christian,” I would never intentionally worship an idol! But idols are not limited to statues of wood or stone.
They can also be good things and precious people in our life. If I have an unmet desire that cause me to doubt God’s goodness, that desire has become an object of worship competing for the love that belongs to God.
- Do I have unreasonable expectations in a broken world?
We don’t have to look very far to see our world is sin-sick and broken. This brokenness touches every area—nothing and no one is exempt. So why are you and I shaken when things don’t work out the way we want? Why do we allow our joy and peace to be snatched away over the slightest circumstance that fails to meet our expectations?
Those who do not believe in God point to the brokenness of our world as evidence He does not exist. But it was humanity who brought sin into the world, not God. I’ve often wondered why, by that same logic, they don’t view beauty and joy as evidence God does exist. Someday, our Savior will return to rule a renewed world. Until then, let’s not allow the brokenness around us to cause us to doubt God’s goodness and steal our peace. Remember what the apostle Paul wrote in Phil. 4:6-7? “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
- Have I redefined who God is?
it’s so easy for Christians—even mature Christians—to fall into the trap of redefining God according to our own desires. We prefer to focus on His attributes of love, compassion, and forgiveness, while pushing aside His attributes of holiness, justice, and sovereignty.
We say God is worthy of our worship, then question His actions when they don’t line up with our plans. We talk about suffering in the abstract, but become angry or bitter when suffering becomes personal. At best, we find ourselves fulfilling this observation of C. S. Lewis: “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” Surely if God is God, then His sovereignty will bring ultimate good out of everything He does!
When our deepest desires are derailed, our joy and peace will come and go based on our circumstances. That is, unless our deepest desire is to love and serve the One who created and redeemed us. Because when God Himself becomes our deepest desire, we recover stolen peace and our joy and peace will be rock-solid!