What is the pathway to peace?
We all long and hope for peace. Some of us are single and hope that when we finally marry, we will feel whole. Some of us have wayward children and hope that when they finally turn to the Lord, we will be at ease. Some of us are in financial straits and hope that when our monetary lack is resolved, our souls will find rest. Whatever the undesirable circumstances are that disturb us, we tend to set our hope for peace fully on the day that those troubles are finally eliminated.
“You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.” – Isaiah 26:3
However, the Scriptures teach us that our difficulties do not need to dissolve in order for us to experience the tranquility we desire. We can have peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7) in the midst of our discomforts and disappointments. How so? By having a mind that is stayed on God (Isaiah 26:3)! Conscious fixation on our sovereign, gracious, and loving Lord is the only effective remedy for a troubled heart.
“Yeah, yeah—I know. I see this truth in the Bible, too. But I just can’t seem to focus on him! I really do try. But I can’t stop thinking about my problems!” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this—or how many times I myself have thought it! It can often feel impossible to pull the attention of our weak minds away from our issues and set our gaze “on things that are above” (Colossians 3:2). However, verses like Isaiah 26:3 and Colossians 3:2 would not be in the Bible if such a feat were impossible. We can fix our eyes on God. We can direct our thoughts to his reality, his sovereignty, his promises, and his great love for us in Christ.
Notice the last clause in Isaiah 26:3: “because he trusts in you.” These five little words are of massive importance. What is it that enables us to turn our focus away from the things that trouble us and set it on the One who can keep us in perfect peace? Trust! Trust in God, or faith in God, empowers our feeble minds to forsake their fixation on our circumstantial ills and focus instead on the God who loves us and is in absolute control of the things that burden us.
There is a reason we are so easily and continuously anxious about our undesirable circumstances. Clearly, our hearts struggle to believe that we have a sovereign and attentive God who truly cares for us (1 Peter 5:7)! We forget that he is a constant shield around us (Psalm 3:3), that he orders our steps (Proverbs 20:24), and that all of our days were written in his book before we were even born (Psalm 139:16). We are so prone to feel like we are at the mercy of our circumstances rather than under the never-ending mercy of a God who is eagerly working all things for our greatest good (Romans 8:28).
If your belief in these biblical truths is weak, and you therefore find yourself unable to fix your mind on the God who is aware and in control of the things that concern you, don’t lose hope. You’re in good company—I’ve been struggling for the last six months to believe these things and rest peacefully in the love and sovereignty of God. However, when you and I find ourselves barely believing God’s word, we need to consume it all the more! If “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Hebrews 10:17), then we must set his inspired words in front of us so that the Spirit can strengthen our ability to believe them.
So if you’re in a season in which you’re struggling to trust God (like I am), there is a solution: open your Bible. Read it and meditate on the absolute truths within it every chance you get. The Spirit will gradually soften your heart as you do. And as he works his faith-enabling power within you day-by-day, you will find yourself increasingly able to set your thoughts on the sovereign, loving, and trustworthy God who desires and is able to keep you in perfect peace.
“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).
Matt Moore is a Christian writer living in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he moved in 2012 to help plant NOLA Baptist Church. Matt spends his days drinking way too much coffee and writing about a wide variety of topics at www.moorematt.org. You can find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.
Image courtesy Ben White, Freely Photos
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