[Jesus said] Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled]. —John 14:27
I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you]. —John 16:33
In my book Battlefield of the Mind, I admit: “I wasted many years of my life worrying about things I could do nothing about. I would like to have those years back and be able to approach them in a different way. However, once you have spent the time God has given you, it is impossible to get it back and do things another way.”
What I didn’t realize for so many years was that Jesus’ peace is always there, ready and waiting for us. His peace is spiritual, and His rest operates in the middle of trouble, noise, and confusion. Too often, we think we’d be just fine if there weren’t so many storms in life. But that’s absolutely not true. Real peace comes from going through the storms and winning the battles of life.
I attended the funeral of an elderly gentleman several years ago. Near the casket stood the eighty-four-year-old widow, who had just lost her husband in a fire that had totally destroyed their home. She barely came out alive herself. Just a week or so earlier, her son had died of cancer, and her daughter had been killed in a freakish car accident. She had lost all of her loved ones within a period of two weeks!
“How are you handling all of this?” I heard someone ask her. “How can one person endure so much?”
The woman’s eyes were moist as she replied, but her voice was firm. She said, “It wasn’t easy. I felt as if I were walking across a river that kept getting deeper, and I was sure I would drown. I kept crying out for God’s help. And do you know what? My feet touched the riverbed, and my head was still above the water. I had made it across. God was with me. His peace enabled me to keep going when I was sure I would drown.”
This is how God’s peace works. Jesus made it clear that we don’t have to worry, because He is with us. No matter how deep the water, He is always there.
I thought again of my years of worrying and living without God’s peace. I was a Christian, and I tried to follow God in every way I knew. However, money was a big problem in those days, and many times, I wondered if we would be able to pay all of our bills.
y husband, Dave, never seemed to worry about anything. I’d be ready to collapse under the stress of it all, and he’d be in the other room playing and wrestling with the children. One time I asked, in frustration, “Why don’t you help me figure this out instead of playing with the children?”
“What would you like me to do?” he asked.
I didn’t know what to say. There was nothing he could do, and I knew it, but it upset me that he could go on enjoying life as if we weren’t in a desperate financial situation. But that was also a great moment of awakening for me.
I had been at the kitchen table for at least an hour worrying, and fretting, and trying to figure out how to pay all our bills. No matter what I did, we simply didn’t have enough money that month. Dave understood the problem and didn’t like it any more than I did, but he didn’t fret. He knew there was nothing he could do to change the figures.
He didn’t say it, but I realized what he meant. “If we can’t change anything, why are you wasting your life trying to fix the things that can’t be fixed?”
As I look back, I’m ashamed of myself. I wasted so many hours of my early married life. Instead of enjoying my life, my children, and my husband, I wasted my energies on trying to fix things I couldn’t fix.
God met our financial needs—sometimes through amazing miracles—and all my worry was for nothing. I wasted a precious time in my life—part of the wonderful, abundant life Jesus offered to me. I have it now, and I’m grateful, but I could have had a more abundant life back then. It took me a while, but I have finally learned to enjoy the faithfulness of my heavenly Father.
God of all peace, help me to recognize and enjoy Your presence in my life and to be thankful for all Your blessings. Don’t let me waste my life worrying about things that only You can control. In the name of Jesus, I ask You to free me from worry. Amen.