There are so many trouble spots in the world. It is overwhelming and can be depressing to watch the news; it appears that so many places are on the edge of disaster. You have the fighting between Israel and Hamas, the tension between the Ukraine and Russia, the issues in Syria and, even here in the United States, we have the fighting from the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri.
It can be so unsettling.
Business is hard, it is competitive and changes quickly and you have to be on your game daily. I just transitioned to a new role. After 19 years with the HoneyBaked Ham Company I recently became the CEO of Family Christian Stores. And while I am excited to be at Family Christian and feel called by God to the position, there are significant challenges to be addressed. In addition, I am meeting new people and learning new processes. I am working to get a better understanding of the business and its risks and opportunities.
It can be so unsettling.
And yet… I have complete Peace.
I care deeply about those things. I follow the international situations carefully and I care deeply about the direction of our country and the results of our business. I pray faithfully for all of these issues and candidly they are not all moving in the direction I prefer.
Yet… I have complete peace.
The peace I have is not one that is dependent on external circumstances. It is not dependent on the situation I find myself in. I have lived long enough to know that I can never have true peace if it depends on circumstances. My experience is that there are always struggles and challenges in life. I have found that I cannot escape it. Even more, I have found that in periods when all appeared to be going well, I still had this unsettled feeling, this tension. I have concluded beyond a shadow of a doubt that peace cannot be “found” in circumstances.
The peace I have is born out of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
This peace is a tranquility of the soul, a calm despite circumstances, it is born out of a dependence on a loving and sovereign God who has my best interest at heart… always. It is not born out of the absence of trouble but from a God who comforts and guides me in the midst of the trouble.
Jesus said (John 14:27) “My peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you… let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful”. He delivered this amazing message of comfort to his disciples the night before he was crucified. Reflect on those words, chew on them. The words are powerful and they are true.
It is His peace that is available to us. It is a supernatural peace.
In Philippians (4:7), Paul writes about the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, shall guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”. It is hard to make sense of this peace in a fallen world, but it is real. It is a peace that is not logical, it makes no sense and it exceeds our wildest expectations.
I have experienced it.
It seems to me that the more I am overwhelmed, the more I struggle, and therefore, the more I cry out to God… the more peace I have. The routine goes something like this. When I think I am in control, when I am worried about me, when I am unilaterally acting without seeking His guidance, I get anxious. I want more, I want it faster and I want it better; always and without fail. On the other hand, when I am over my head, when I am failing, when I am worried, when my family is hurting, when I have no options, then, I cry out to God. I go to Him in desperation, and it is there, not in the circumstances that I find peace. He comforts me; always and without fail.
His Peace he gives to me.
My second son was a Marine Infantry officer. He fought in Iraq and he fought in Afghan. He received a Bronze star for valor in combat. He fought a lot back in ’08 and ’09. My son was on the front lines fighting almost daily and I knew that. Yet I had complete peace.
Why? It was during those years that I learned the true nature of the peace that is only available through Christ. It was the first time in my life that the circumstances that affected me were completely out of my control (at least my perception of control). My son was in Afghan and I was in Atlanta. There was nothing I could do to help him, nothing.
I realized the depth to which I was not in control. I cried out in desperation and I cried out in total dependence.
You know what happened?
During those two years, God transformed me. He gave me a peace that I cannot describe and it was not a function of the expectation that my son would come home alive. It was based on a trust that His ways are best and that His love is unconditional and fully comforts. I was not worried about the outcome. I simply wanted more of God. It was an incredibly sweet season for me in what should have been a period of extreme anxiety.
I have not forgotten that lesson. I had become a Christian long before my son went to war, but I had never cried out to Him so passionately and so earnestly. I understood my helplessness and my total dependence on Him. I was not fooled into thinking that I was in control and only needed God occasionally. I needed Him “full time” and He was there to comfort me and give me peace.
Here is the deal… if you want peace… Trust Christ fully and completely. Do not wait for the world to give you that peace. That will be a long wait.