Many of us think peace is situational, that it depends on what our life looks like on paper. For some, peace comes from a paycheck. For others, peace comes from people.
What’s your source of peace? How well is it really serving you?
In this blog post, we are looking at the 3 signs that you have a bad source of peace, and how they measure up against the peace of God.
1) Your source of peace can be earned
When something you earned becomes your source of peace, it produces two dangerous conditions in your soul:
Peace declines when “self” inclines.
When I began working for my church in 2016, it wasn’t long before I started thinking I’m better than everyone else. It feels good to feel superior to others, even when you’re not. But it eventually leads to misery. We’ve all at some point boasted about ourselves and our accomplishments. If not out loud, we’ve at least become full of pride in our heart. And pride, as God says in His Word, comes before our fall.
We need a source of peace that we didn’t earn. Something we can’t take credit for. Jesus, who is our salvation, meets that criteria.
Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.(Ephesians 2:9 New Living Translation)
Our salvation, us not going to hell, costed nothing on our end and a whole lot on Jesus’. Therefore, it’s impossible to be full of pride when you’re full of the peace of God.
Earned peace demands a worried soul
The approval others was something I used to work tirelessly to earn. Sometimes I succeeded. But out of fear, I’d do whatever was necessary to keep their approval, which often meant pretending to be someone I’m not.
I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.(John 14:27 New Living Translation)
The Father’s gift to us is Jesus, and Jesus’ gift to us the peace of God. That’s a whole lot of doing nothing to earn everything. And because of this He tells us not to fear, for it’s an undeserved gift we get to keep, unlike anything from the world that can be lost.
Which brings us to the next sign of a bad source of peace.
2) Your source of peace can be lost
Is peace really peace if its source can leave you?
Many of us know what it feels like to lose a relationship, or a job, or material objects. Some of us even know what it feels like to lose a loved one. While all of these losses don’t hurt the same, this one thing they have in common: it feels like your peace left when they left.
This is only true if those things or people you’ve lost are your source of peace. We need a source that we can’t lose.
Jesus said this to His disciples not long before He ascended up to heaven:
I am with you always, even to the end of the age.(Matthew 28:20 New King James Version)
Later on He left them, but not really. He’s been with them ever since and He’s with you, too. The moment you invited Jesus into your life wasn’t metaphorical. His Spirit is living in you, ready to teach you and help you and comfort whenever you need. The peace of God has no plans to leave you.
Relationships, jobs, possessions. They’re essential, but because they have the capacity to be temporary, they’re not meant to be our sources. The peace of God is the only source of peace we can’t lose.
3) Your source of peace can be figured out
Peace during times that can’t be understood fully can only come from a source that can’t be understood fully.
When we don’t feel at peace, we think it’s because of a circumstance. We think it’s because of what’s taking place in our lives externally. Paul had plenty of reasons to claim he doesn’t have peace. Throughout his life he was shipwrecked, beaten, thrown in prison, accused of having selfish motives, and often suffered hungry, cold, and sleepless nights.
Despite all of this, the tone in his letters couldn’t be more different than his circumstances.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.(Philippians 4:6-7 New Living Translation)
It’s worth mentioning that the greatest advice on having peace during hard times was written from a jail cell. Paul knew what his life looked like on paper. But he also knew that peace doesn’t depend on that. It’s an internal issue. It’s an incident you can’t describe in a police report.
The Hebrew word for peace is “shalom”, which means complete, or whole. This is what Paul’s talking about when he writes “the peace of God.” It’s the kind of peace that solves our real problem: not being the “whole” God intended for us all. If you belong to Jesus, you have this peace—this wholeness. However, it doesn’t always feel like it, and sometimes we identify with an incomplete version of ourselves. It’s tough to wrap our minds around, yet our inability to understand this fully will always be met with a source that can’t be understood fully.
That source is God, who will never fail to match your disaster with His comfort. Whose peace is far beyond anything we can comprehend.
How to have the peace of God in hard times
As Paul writes in Philippians 4:6-7, you can approach God with your worries, but that’s not when your real problem goes away. You won’t truly experience this unfathomable peace of God until you follow up your concerns with thankfulness for all He’s done. For some practical steps to having a routine of thankfulness, check out this helpful article my fiancé wrote.
It’s easy to feel like we have no peace when things aren’t going the way we hoped. But Jesus is the source of peace far greater than anything we can earn, lose, or figure out. The laying down of His own life for us makes Him worthy of our praise, and He’s always faithful to return the favor.