We all know what it means to be stressed out and full of anxiety. There is so much to worry about these days and life is so busy! Some of the stressors in our lives are concerns about our own families and finances, but lately what’s going on in the world around us is causing a lot of anxiety too. Ebola, the Islamic State, the threats of terrorism in retaliation, climate change, the tar sands, fracking, pollution of the environment on a grander scale than ever before – oh, and politicians.
I used to live in a constant state of anxiety until I came to know Jesus in 2000. I worried about my kids, about money, about what people thought of me, and I worried at lot about what was happening in the world. There was a constant threat of nuclear war in the 70’s and early 80’s and just like they are doing now, the news media played into our fears in order to keep us reading the newspapers and tuning into the nightly news. I wondered, what’s the point of bettering myself or planning for my kids’ future when we were all going to be blown to you-know-where soon anyhow.
Fear and panic because of world events is much more viral and widespread today. In the information age, news travels fast – and so does misinformation. Distrust of mainstream media has created a whole other genre: the independent news media, and it’s become incredibly difficult to filter out truth in any given situation. Propagandists, alarmists, and conspiracy theorists abound, and they flood the internet with even more reasons why we should be afraid, very afraid.
But whatever fearful events the news media parade before us on a daily basis, it’s important that we remain calm, and don’t allow panic to hijack our intelligence. We must strive to maintain what many call “inner peace”. Most of the things we are afraid of do not happen anyway, and that was true for me as a young mom. The threats of contracting AIDS or of being annihilated by a nuclear bomb that I saw on the news then were just that, threats. None of these things that terrified me and others came to pass. And all that time I spent worrying and being depressed was for nothing. I could have been happily moving on with my life, and enjoying every moment, instead. I wish I knew then what I know now.
So how can we “keep calm and carry on” in the face of all the potential disasters that are threatening our lives and our world? The following are four keys to having peace right now; peace that lasts.
- God gives us peace like a river.
In Isaiah 66:12, God says that He will give His people “peace like a river.” What does that mean? A river is constantly flowing. If you stand in a river, water will flow past you, but there is always more water coming. You are constantly being washed and surrounded by a flow that never runs out. That’s how God gives peace. It is not fleeting. Peace like a river is everlasting, ever available to us.
- Exchange your anxieties for His peace.
God wants to redeem your fears and anxieties, and He’s the only one who can do it. In fact, He makes this promise in Philippians 4:6-7: “…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
This is my go to passage of scripture whenever I find myself beginning to worry; and I can testify that its promise is true. I don’t know about you, but I want to have the kind of peace that doesn’t depend on my circumstances or on the state of the world around me.
- Seek out the Prince of Peace.
When life becomes a struggle and we feel stressed out and burned out, Jesus invites us to come and find peace in Him. He says: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
It’s not just a nice saying to comfort us, it’s a promise. The Bible calls Him the Prince of Peace in Isaiah 9:6. Who better to go to when you need some peace and rest than the One who is calling you to Himself, the very Prince of Peace?
- Thanksgiving leads to rejoicing.
The greatest key to receiving the kind of peace that flows like a river and passes all understanding – and circumstances – is found in verse 6 of Philippians 4: thanksgiving. When you ask God for help and give your anxieties over to Him, don’t forget to thank Him for all that He has done for you. He is always with us, always watching over us and protecting us and guiding us. No matter how great your worries and your struggles, there is always something in your life to be thankful for.
Remembering that He is always with us will lead us to rejoicing.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice….The Lord is at hand! (Philippians 4:4,5b)
If your world seems to be spiralling out of control, just remember, the Lord, the Prince of Peace, is near enough to reach out and touch. And He is waiting for you to come and bring your burdens to Him, so that He can exchange them for peace like a river, everlasting, constantly flowing, peace. It’s available to you right now. Take a big breath and tell Him what’s troubling you – remember to thank Him – and then put your hands out to receive that everlasting river of peace.