In All Things, Peace
It’s been one of those weeks…
…following a succession of another one of those weeks where work, family, school, activities, health, over-commitments, unending to-dos, escalating conflicts, and one unexpected thing after another rolled in like waves crashing on the shore.
Not the quiet, peaceful waves whose rhythms seem to lull us into blissful relaxation while we slowly inhale the salty ocean air during times of planned respite at the beach; but the powerful stormy ones that crash one after the other, surging incessantly, threatening to topple over us in one direction or another, determined to pull us in our weariness and striving into the undercurrent.
Can you relate?
Life does that. The choices we make result in finding ourselves braced against unforeseen forces that begin to crash around us; fear and anger rising to the surface. I have been here before, suddenly aware that I picked up the control again, allowing situations and people to inch their way into becoming the source of my peace and joy, distorting my identity.
Amid all that presses in, my eyes and emotions search furiously for a place to focus. And with certainty they land.
Gentle and true.
The assurance of His promises.
It is in this place where Jesus teaches me to lift my eyes, to lean my ear, heart, and thoughts to Him. Amid turmoil to listen, whisper His name, pray, grab hold of His word, His truth, focus on and seek Him alone.
That soothing, calming breath in the storm that envelops us, fills us. That slows our racing thoughts and thumping hearts; peace flows in and relaxes my frown and furrowed brow, easing them into a gentle smile, as I once again remember…Him.
His promises, Word, and truth. I remember His presence. He alone brings order to our chaos. Only Him! He shines light on what is good, amidst, even in spite of, the bad. Gratitude wells up. Joy returns. His way, now illuminated, even if just a step at a time.
Peace. I breathe Him in slowly and fully, then exhale, releasing with it the struggle, pain, and worry. With every breath in, He fills my mind, heart, and being increasingly more with His presence, allowing His Spirit to empower and sustain me. He washes over every thought, every negative, reactive impulse within me.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world,” Jesus lovingly tells His disciples in John 16:33.
This final direct intimate teaching before His crucifixion recounted in John’s Gospel account reveal the unfolding realities of Jesus as:
A gospel conveying His human interactions, teaching, and faithful abiding dependence on God.
This chapter begins and ends with Jesus urgently and passionately emphasizing what He told His disciples (and us). He reminds us we will experience turmoil and confusion, yet He provides our peace in His power and love. As He prepares His disciples to live forward after He returns to the father, John 17:1 continues:
“After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed…”
In the midst of this painful transition, imminent separation, and their uncertainty, Jesus prays. He prays for them, for us. This knowledge of His truth and testimony provides such strength and hope for me amidst uncertainty. Peace that surpasses all understanding, through Him in prayer, in all things (Philippians 4:4-9).
Have you experienced it? Do you believe it?
Jesus brought this truth to fruition in my life, and I share prayerfully that you will find peace through Him in all your days and nights. Trying to manufacture peace during a dark and difficult time, I spent endless days and sleepless nights striving, battling, and controlling. I began each morning with a deficit in body, mind, and spirit that evolved into a downward spiral of isolation and escape.
I failed at this impossible task of creating my own peace.
By His mercy, the endless hours of tossing and turning in the night, replaying offenses, pain, worrying and strategizing were miraculously transformed into times of grateful reflection, connection in prayer and praise, meditating on God and His goodness. I remember waking with surprise one morning, realizing He had eased me into restful sleep as I turned my eyes and heart to Jesus, praying, gratefully releasing my burdens and control.
How powerful and sweet is Jesus!
He cut through the turmoil I had been refueling in my mind and heart. The circumstances remained, yet my outlook and experience were radically different. My posture and hope lifted when I looked to Jesus. I am grateful and empowered. His peace rules in my mind and heart.
When life presses in, ladening us with burdens and knocking us down, we have a choice. We can come up fighting and spewing in aggression, shrinking in weariness, fear and shame; or we can look to Jesus. In His strength and truth, we can stand and respond in peace, kindness, humility, and patience, trusting He is with us, that He understands how hard life and relationships can be.
As I connect with Jesus, His word and Christian community, He reframes what I see. Although the circumstances remain, my posture and hope are lifted in Him, empowering increasing release of control and surrender. The peace of Jesus is palpable, present, and within reach.
In all things, peace.
Patti is a grateful, redeemed daughter of God, wife and mom of three young men, who currently lives in Charlotte, NC. A pharmacist by background, she operates an 18-year healthcare consulting business and serves as board chair for Javesca Feeds, a nonprofit she co-founded to help end hunger and malnutrition in the US and around the world. As volunteer staff at Christ the King Church, she leads their small groups ministry, growing groups and leaders to help connect people in community into relationship with Jesus and one another. She co-leads Propel locally, serves as a regional connector, and in January joyfully entered a new season of equipping through the MA in Leadership and Evangelism at Wheaton College, as part of the Propel Cohort. She knows she is fully reliant on God for all things and has to fight her own instincts to grab the controls!