If you were to stand before a couple thousand folks and speak after a week like this past one, what would you say? What would you talk about? Savage bomb blasts at the finish line of an iconic Boston sport’s event and a fiery inferno and chemical explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas were the two main chaotic events that dominated our news channels 24/7 all week. Both rattled Americans—rural, small-town, suburban and urban. Both scarred our hearts. Both raised unanswerable questions.
How is it possible to experience internal calm and peace when circumstances inside our lives or outside us seem out of control? When people have cried over the death of children, the carnage of mangled limbs and the loss of first responders who were just doing what they were trained for, what kind of comfort and hope is there?
There are so many passages in the Bible to point you toward. The hope of the Psalms. The comfort of the prophet Isaiah. And, the words of Jesus in the Gospels. Here’s the scripture that I directed people to this weekend. These words of Apostle Paul were written while he was at one of the lowest points of his life—from a jail cell where he was held because he was practicing his faith.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9 (NIV).
These are the takeaways that I shared in my weekend message.
You Can Choose Joy – When you know God as Immanuel (meaning God with us), we can choose our attitude. (v. 4)
You Can Choose Gentleness – When you know God is near and in control, you can actually relax and let him handle the outcomes rather than stressing and striving to determine your own outcomes. (v. 5)
You Can Choose to Be Anxious Free – When you know God is with you, you don’t have to try to control the areas of life only He is in charge of. (v. 6)
You Can Come to God in Confidence – God invites to come before Him in prayer and to ask boldly for His intervention and help. (v. 6)
You Can Expect God’s Transcendent Peace – When you get to know God for who He really is as Immanuel, then you can make the above choices and the result will be hard-to-explain peace. (v. 7)
You Must Focus on God’s Traits – If you want to keep God’s incredible peace, then you can’t focus on everything negative going on around you, instead you stay zeroed in on God’s positive traits. (vs. 8 & 9)
God’s peace is attainable during chaos when we understand He is present in our world and grasp how much he wishes to be included and invited into our daily lives. My prayer is that this week will be filled with God’s presence and peace.
QUESTION: What helps you experience God’s peace in your life? Please share below.