Some years ago, I was waiting for my husband to come home after visiting someone in hospital. As I looked out the lounge-room window and over the paddocks, I saw the flashing lights of an ambulance. There had been an accident on the road leading to our house, and traffic was unable to pass that point. I desperately wanted to jump in the car and see if he was all right; however, with three small children asleep in their beds, there wasn’t a thing I could do but wait. And as I waited, I noticed that whenever I focused on God, I was at rest and felt his peace, but when my attention turned to the flashing lights I felt anxious. How hard it was to focus on God, and how relieved I was when my husband eventually made it home.
In Isaiah 63:14 we read about God’s people recalling the days of old and saying, “they were given rest by the Spirit of the Lord. This is how you guided your people to make for yourself a glorious name.” In this passage Isaiah is referring to Moses and the Israelites at the Red Sea. At that time Moses told the people, “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest” (Exodus 14:14 AMP).
It isn’t normal to be peaceful at stressful times. If we hold our peace in difficult circumstances, we make God’s name glorious because we are not relying on our own self- sufficiency. However, when we become agitated and disturbed by circumstances, we send a subtle message that being a Christian makes no difference to our lives.
In John 14:27 we read Jesus’ familiar words, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” The world gives a fragile peace, which requires constant effort to maintain; God gives peace as a gift. We don’t have to avoid difficult situations or difficult people in order to be at peace.
God challenged me with the Amplified Bible’s version of the same verse: “Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.”
Stop allowing myself… Don’t permit myself… Clearly, it’s up to me to take charge of my thoughts. Until that time, I had held a deluded belief that I was achieving something by worrying. Not to worry seemed like I was letting down those I cared about.
While it’s a challenge not to be disturbed by circumstances and to remain at rest regardless of the situation, it’s achievable. God wants to give his peace, over and over again, but first we have to let go of our anxieties and fears.