Our lives have changed dramatically over the past few weeks - ours and those of most people around the world. I would imagine that fear and faith are battling it out in the hearts of many of us right now. We no sooner find a measure of peace when the latest news, filled with frightening statistics and new restrictions, causes a certain amount of fear to shatter our hard-won peace. The reality that life can change in the blink of an eye has become apparent to all of us.
So where do we find a firm foundation on which to stand?Where can we go, when life is swirling all around us, to find a centered place of peace? The truth is, peace is not a place or a thing, or a new attitude. It’s a person. Jesus is our peace.
Fear isn’t something new. It’s as old as time itself, and so are the remedies we’ve used to try to fight it. God understands our tendency to try desperately to fix the things that cause us to feel afraid. Instead, He offers us a place of refuge, a calm in the midst of life’s storms, but to find it we need to trust Him.
The Children of Israel provide us endless examples of people who time and time again failed to trust the Lord. In spite of the fact that He had never once failed to keep His promises to them, every time something went wrong they acted out of fear - complaining, disobeying and longing to go back to Egypt. Egypt - the very place where they had pleaded for deliverance from slavery. Their lack of faith kept them wandering in the wilderness for forty years.
God has given promises to us too:
- He has promised to give us power when we’re weak and can’t handle the problems life throws at us. “He gives strength to the weak and power to the powerless." Isaiah 40:29
- He will protect us when we’re afraid. “‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
- He will give us a plan when we don’t know which way to go. "For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
God has proven faithful time and time again. When those same Children of Israel chose faith instead of fear, they moved into the land He had promised them. So it is for us. If we will only trust Him, He will see us through every circumstance we face. It may not look the way we had expected or even the way we had prayed it would, but we can be sure it will be for our eventual good.
It would be easy to try to fix everyone’s fears with simple platitudes. Words don’t mean much when we are afraid a precious loved one will become sick and die. They don’t put food on the table when we suddenly find ourselves without an income. They don’t bring peace when our loved ones are out on the front lines of a pandemic that is sweeping the world.
God’s promises aren’t empty words. They are true. Surely we can look back and see His hand moving in our darkest moments, His provision when we could see no way out, and His peace when we surrendered completely and put our trust in Him. It comes as a gift - unexpected and mysterious. A peace when everything around us says we should be afraid.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27
These were Jesus’ words to His disciples They are His words to us now.