What does it take to get you to lose your sense of peace and relaxation?
In recent years of my life, it hasn’t taken too much to make me unsettled and worried.
I think a natural part of becoming an adult is having your eyes opened to the hugeness of the world and all the responsibilities that come with being a part of it. For me, that has definitely been the case as I’ve entered my late teens and early twenties. College exams, health issues, broken or troubled relationships, thoughts of the unknown, trying to decide what to do with my life, and many other issues have often had the potential of ruffling my calmness and sending me into anxiety and stress, and even despair, if I allow it.
It seems pretty common to me, even among Christians, for people to think that being stressed or worried is a natural part of life and to not take much action to eliminate it from their lives. And in my own life, I’ve often felt like it’s impossible to stop worrying about potential problems and not getting stressed out during busy, high-pressure periods of life.
But is that really biblical?
Hmm. I think you might know where I’m going with this.
If you really look at it honestly, anxiety and stress are just nice names for fear. That big, bad guy that we all hate. And the shallowest of overviews of the Bible will clearly reveal that God is not a fan of fear. In fact, He commands against it. Not just once, or twice, but many times in the Bible God says not to fear.
That doesn’t just mean don’t fear during the really hard times in your life, like when you lose your job, or when you’re being persecuted for righteousness’ sake, or when you’re in the middle of a final exam (yes, this is like the hardest thing in the world for a college student). It means not to fear. Period. Not to get stressed out, or worried or anxious. Not ever. Not when your meal is not getting done on time, or when you can’t find your left shoe, or after your dog eats your speech notes, or when you feel your life is spinning out of control.
Well, I’ve always known that. Of course God doesn’t want me to be fearful. I mean, He says that He has not given me a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
But do I really know it? Knowing that in my head looks a lot different from knowing it in my heart and letting it affect my life.
So how can I take that head knowledge and practically apply it to my life?
Recently God has been teaching me a lot more about how to find true peace that will last, and He’s shown me several powerful verses in the Bible that speak about the issue of fear.
If God tells me to do something, then I know that there is always a way to do it. God has given us all things that we need to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3-4). And that’s true for the fear issue. God has given us clear instructions on how to beat the fear and stress in our lives.
In my mind, that is uh-ma-zing. To be able to live a peaceful, calm, stress-free, no-tension life? Give it to me, please! I know how much my life has been unsettled from the simple reason of fear, and I don’t want it anymore!
One of my favorite verses of all time is Isaiah 26:3, which says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (NKJV)
That, right there, is one of the most important keys to staying in peace. God just said right there that if I keep my mind on Him, He will keep me in perfect peace, because I am trusting in Him.
Perfect peace. That doesn’t sound remotely close to anxiety or stress to me. And it’s as simple as keeping my focus on Him?
Yes, I know that saying that is much easier than doing it. But it’s possible, because God promises it.
What’s more exciting is that the New Testament also says something really similar about keeping our focus on God. It’s in Hebrews 12:1-2, and it says this:
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (NKJV)
Looking unto Jesus – Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith, and guess what He had to say about fear and peace?
In John 14:27, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (NKJV)
Jesus is the very giver of peace. And His peace is very unlike the temporary, conditional peace that the world tries to provide. Jesus has given us His supernatural peace that transcends all of our troubles and fears. All we have to do is keep our eyes fixed on Him.
But there’s more. How does this peace happen? How does looking to Jesus bring us peace?
There’s a clue in a verse that I mentioned earlier. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7, that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV)
God has given us something to replace that spirit of fear in our hearts and minds: it is the spirit of power, the spirit of love, and the spirit of a sound mind. I love the way the Amplified version says it:
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].
That last part sounds like the complete opposite of what the spirit of fear tries to do to us. Fear and stress is a well-known cause of a lack of sound judgment, a restless and unbalanced mind, impulsiveness, and a lack of self-control. But getting rid of the spirit of fear will also result in getting rid of all those negative things. I don’t know about you, but I would love to have a spirit of power, love, sound judgment and personal discipline, which result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control.
The good news is that I do! I do have all those things, because I am a child of God, and He has given me all those things as part of His amazing blessings to me.
I want to emphasize that second aspect of the spirit God has given us: love.
If we are fixing our eyes on Jesus, then we will be filled more and more with His love for us. A result of being filled with His love is that fear will be banished completely.
Look at what John says about that in I John 4: 18-19:
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.”(ESV)
I love that passage (the whole chapter is amazing, too). We will have no cause for fear if we have been perfected in God’s love. Where God’s perfect love is, fear has no room to dwell. I want to be so filled with the knowledge of God’s love for me that I don’t even think about letting fear in.
This is the basic process that I have come to: keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, letting His love and peace fill my heart, and my fears and stress and anxiety will cease to exist. It’s often hard to do that and I have to struggle to get to that point, but every time I do, God is faithful and He gives me peace.
So I just want to ask: Are we going to take this knowledge and let it sink in and actually change our lives? Or are we going to continue to say wishfully, “well, that’s nice,” but then allow circumstances and the lies of the devil to keep us under bondage to fear?
God has given us the power, the tools, everything we need, to overcome the spirit of fear, and we can live in victory if we only use them.
It’s a supernatural thing. Living in peace in the middle of a storm is not a natural thing. It has to be supernatural. And we are never going to attain that peace unless something supernatural takes place. I think that’s why so many Christians live in constant worry and anxiety. They are living too much in the natural realm and not allowing God’s supernatural power to become a part of their lives. When you get your head stuck in the way things are naturally, you’re not easily going to lift your head up and see the power available to you.
So that’s what I’m trying to do: to help those of you who need it to lift your head up and see the peace that God is offering to you. Keep your eyes fixed on God and let His peace reign in you. It’s one of His blessings and gifts that He gives as part of His salvation plan to mankind.
Here are a few more of my favorite verses on peace in the Bible:
- Psalm 34:4 ~ I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
- Philippians 4:6-7 ~ Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- Psalm 4:8 ~ In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
- Matthew 11:28-30 ~ Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
- Colossians 3:15 ~ And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
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