There is so much going on these days.
As most members of the 40-something age group, I have adult children and aging parents. I also have:
- good friends who have adult children and aging parents, and maybe even grandchildren.
- challenging career along with a slew of related professional activities.
- commitments, both professional and recreational, which require my time and attention.
- responsibilities at home.
Throughout my life, I've always placed a great deal of importance on limiting stress. Placing my trust in God has been so important and routine conversations with Him have provided amazing peace when there might have been none otherwise.
Lately, however, there has been a change in the structure of my life. Friends have lost loved ones and jobs. Family members are struggling with various challenges of life. Someone I trusted took advantage of me. I'm concerned about finances, health, time, and a whole lot of other things.
Stress has crept into my life, undetected, and unknown to me until I can begin to feel it physically.
Immediately, I turned to scripture. I have some "go-to" scriptures when I feel stress creeping in.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. - Philippians 4:6
This is the scripture to remind us that we can bring all things directly to God: the good, the bad, and the ugly. We should prayerfully submit them to God, ask for His strength and help, and then joyfully thank Him for hearing our prayers and for the work He will be doing on our behalf. Why joyfully? Joy is so important. Remember Proverbs 17:22 - A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. - John 14:27
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. - John 16:33
John Piper said in a sermon from June 2012, "I think it is one of the most amazing and one of the sweetest things in the Bible, that in the hours just before Jesus was to be killed, he had set his mind, and his heart, and his words to build faith into the lives of his followers. Think of it. We're just hours before he knew he would not only die but be tortured with one of the worst devices of torture that has ever been conceived for hours, and his mind was on them. 'I want you to have peace.' 'I want you to rejoice.' 'I want you to have faith.'"
There is nothing more "PEACEful" than the peace of Jesus. This peace is not based on my circumstances. It's not based on my savings account, the neighborhood I live in, or the kind of health insurance I have. To the disciples, with their panicked looks on their faces at the thought of their Master leaving them, Jesus wanted that their hearts NOT be troubled. He wanted them to have his peace.
The peace of Jesus is about sharing in the peace that exists between the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit. Can you imagine it? Despite the physical pain and suffering he was about to go through, the desire of Jesus was to obey the Father who he loved so much ... the Father who loves US so much. That's some serious peace.
I want that peace. I want to submerge myself in an ocean of this peace. And I must remember that I have access to this great, amazing peace ... especially when those little stresses of life catch up with me.
I have one more item to add to the list of "things I have" above.
I have a close and intimate relationship with Christ. This relationship is of the most importance because without it, everything else is lifeless, loveless, joyless, and ... peaceless.