How to Reduce Fear and Increase Faith

In Mark 4 Jesus asks His disciples two questions I think He asks you and me pretty regularly, too.

His inquiries are made to the disciples at the end of the story of how He speaks to the wind and the waves in a “furious squall” and they immediately die down.

After calming the storm with just three words, “Quiet! Be still!” Jesus says to His disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:39-40).

It struck me that what Jesus is implying is that if they had faith, they wouldn’t have fear. Faith and fear, then, are opposites.

If we find ourselves fearful about something, the best prayer we can pray, it seems, is, “Lord, increase my faith!”

How does God increase our faith?

First John 4:18 reads, “…perfect love drives out fear…” And this description of what love does comes right after John’s defining what love is: God. “God is love,” (1 John 4:16).

So, God is love – perfect love, of course – and perfect love drives out fear. Logic tells me, then, that God drives out fear. But it’s a particular aspect of who He is that removes fear from our hearts: Love.

If you’re still with me, I believe God increases our faith in Him by driving out the fear in our hearts via His making us more and more aware of His perfect love. 

The better we understand His love for us, the calmer we are and the more easily we trust Him, whatever may come.

I think it’s worth noting Jesus’ second question is, “Do you still have no faith?” He didn’t expect the disciples to have perfect faith, just some faith. But, apparently, they didn’t have any at all.

It would make sense to me that fear and faith are inversely proportional: the more we have of one, the less we have of the other.

I was tempted at first to write they cannot coexist, that when we feel or have one, we cannot feel or have the other. But I don’t think that’s true.

We are fallen and will never have perfect or complete faith in God about anything. Our flesh and Satan whisper doubt to us all the time, scaring us. But the more we focus on God’s love, the louder our faith will be and the quieter our fear will get.

The last part of these questions that caught my eye is the word still. “Do you still have no faith?” I can sense Jesus’ exasperation that after all the disciples had seen Him do, all they’d heard Him say, all they’d experienced with Him, they still didn’t believe Jesus knew what He was doing when He told them to set sail that night? They still didn’t believe Jesus would protect them no matter how terrible the storm got or how soundly He slept?

Why didn’t they have faith in their teacher who was obviously divinely anointed?

Because in the moment they forgot everything they knew about Him. They forgot the miracles they’d witnessed Him perform, the healings they’d seen Him do, the wise teachings they’d heard from His mouth, and the hints He’d been dropping that He was the Messiah.

Instead of recalling the truths about Jesus – the things that would have given them faith – the disciples focused on the wind and the waves threatening their lives. They focused on the fear.

We have to train our minds to remember all the ways Jesus has been faithful to us throughout our lives. We have to think about all we’ve been through with Him, how He has blessed us and protected us in the past. Especially in the middle of a fear-inducing storm, we have to focus our thoughts on His impeccable character and unfailing love for us.

To reduce fear and increase faith in our lives, we need to study His perfect love and remember all He has brought us through.  

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Thoughts for the Anxious Christian

Anxiety is a broad term for a lot of different psychological and physiological responses. And people use it in a myriad of ways.

Psychologically speaking, some people say they are anxious when they are mildly worried about something. Others don’t consider passing worry to be anxiety until it becomes obsessively debilitating worry – worry that’s often irrational or over the top.

Still others reserve the word anxious for when their bodies are responding to the fear in their minds – increased heart rates, feeling hot, feeling claustrophobic, feeling unable to breathe, feeling like your having a heart attack, stomachaches. When physical anxiety is at it’s worst, most people call that experience a panic attack.

The nice thing (if there is one) about anxiety is that the Bible speaks to it in more than one place. To be honest with you, I’ve always read verses about anxiety from the stand point of mild worry. But the Lord has me in a season where anxiety means more than that to me, so I am looking afresh at the “anxiety verses”. Just because I’ve limited their meaning in the past to mild worry doesn’t mean that’s the only way God intended them to be interpreted.

On that note, I read this today:

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1Pe 5:6-11)

Verse 6: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 
  • We should submit to the idea that our anxiety (however we experience it: mild worry, obsessive worry, depression, panic attacks, debilitating anxiety disorders, etc.) is God’s doing (either directly or indirectly); He is in control. He knows what’s best, and, as hard as it is, He has deemed this best for us right now.
  • He will deliver us from this suffering at the proper time. (The NIV isn’t a great translation here; thankfully, vs. 10 clarifies Peter’s meaning.)
Verse 7: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
  • We are to continually place our anxiety on Him, not keep it ourselves. Whether it’s worrisome thoughts or physical anxiety, we should consciously give those things to God. We can do this through prayer: “Lord, I don’t want to worry about ____. I don’t want to be afraid of ____. I don’t want to feel ____. You take these things.”
  • I have a hunch that if God tells us to cast our anxiety on Him, it’s because He is willing to take it from us. In other words, it will be a fruitful exercise. I can’t prove this. So don’t go hanging your hat on it.
  • He cares for us! As alone as we may feel in the midst of anxiety, we are not. And because He cares about us, He wants our anxiety. He wants to free us from all levels of worry, just as we long to ease our childrens’ worried minds and take their physical pain from them.   
Verse 8: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
  • Satan wants to devour us in the midst of our experiencing anxiety. This is an opportune time for him. I don’t know that he can cause our anxious symptoms (particularly physiological responses), but I am certain he tries to exacerbate them by drumming up our fears concerning them.
  • We need to say to Satan, “I will not be the one you devour!” in the midst of our anxious episodes.
  • We are not picked on by Satan because we are weak or less than; I believe we are targeted because we unashamedly identify ourselves with Jesus. We should consider Satan’s attacks an honor and not feel ashamed in anyway that we are experiencing them (1 Peter 4:12-19).
Verse 9: “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
  • We can resist Satan by declaring truth out loud, “God is good. He only allows that which is in my best interest. I refuse to believe otherwise. He is in total control, and I am safe with Him.” (Psalm 107:1, Romans 8:28, Proverbs 19:21, Psalm 4:8)
  • We are not alone! Believers all over the world and all over our own churches are experiencing the same kinds of anxiety in all its forms. As a side note, Satan seeks to divide and conquer us by isolating us. The more we share our stories with each other, the braver we all become to get the help we need to overcome our anxiety, especially the more debilitating forms.
Verse 10: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
  • We will suffer, but not forever; only for a little while.
  • We are personally called and chosen by God, and He Himself will restore us from this season of suffering. And when He restores us to emotional health, He will make us strong, firm and steadfast. There is no mincing words here; this is a promise
Verse 11: “To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
  • It is by His power and as a testament to His power that these things will come to pass.
  • Amen is an expression of absolute confidence that it will be so. Peter is confident. We can be confident.
Whether you struggle with “normal” worrying from time to time or more intense anxiety, reread this passage of scripture the next time you feel concerned. There is power in the Word. I’d even encourage you to read it out loud. In some situations, doing so will be enough to quell the anxiety and empower you to cast all your anxiety on the Lord. Other situations warrant additional action steps. Either way, incorporating scripture will undoubtedly help us.

How Far Will God Go to Get Our Attention?

“Sometimes it feels like I am being swallowed whole. Like this life is too much. Like I am too much.”

I said that to God.

And a truth popped into my head almost instantly: there is someone who knows what that feels like.

Jonah was literally swallowed whole… and why?

Because he wouldn’t do what the Lord told him to do (Jonah 1). 

“‘Go to the great city of Nineveh…'” God had said. “But Jonah ran away from the Lord…”

Yeah, Jonah has always understood me… us…

“Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up… they knew [Jonah] was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so… the sea was getting rougher and rougher…”

Yes, things only go from bad to worse when we’re running away from God.

The Lord caused this storm. He will not hesitate to create storms – “bad things” – to get our attention. 

“‘I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you,'” Jonah admitted.

Jonah’s nothing if he isn’t honest.

Am I? Are you?

Are we willing to tell people, “HEY! I AM RUNNING AWAY FROM THE LORD! I KNOW THAT IT IS MY FAULT THAT THIS GREAT STORM HAS COME UPON YOU!”

I don’t read this as Jonah bragging about his disobedience. I don’t think he is wearing it as a badge of honor. I know I’m not. I read Jonah as a guy who is being honest about where his heart is, transparent about his failings. And I hope I’m read the same way…

At his request, the sailors threw Jonah overboard to save themselves from the storm that was threatening their lives – the storm Jonah had caused. The sailors did this reluctantly, fully believing Jonah would die if they put him in that sea. They didn’t do it for Jonah’s good – they did it for themselves – but they were scared to death – scared of death scared of Jonah’s death

Yes, we can – we must – look at those we love who are weathering a storm God caused in an effort to get our attention and say, “THROW ME OVERBOARD! SAVE YOURSELVES, AND TRUST GOD TO SAVE ME!”

And they might believe if they do that we will die. They might be scared to death – scared of death – scared of our deaths…

But they needn’t be. Because we know there is more to Jonah’s story – to our stories – than a cold, frightening swim in a swelling sea.

“They took Jonah and they threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.”

God stopped that storm as quickly as He had started it the second Jonah hit the water. He bobbed like a lure, alone, treading water, but he knew – he knew – God was with him. What other explanation was there for a hurricane giving way to tranquility in the blink of an eye?

Can we believe God can do the same for us?

And for the loved ones we must push over the starboard side of a ship that’s sinking swiftly?

God could have stopped that storm and left it at that. He could have left Jonah in the middle of the calm sea, treading water until his legs cramped and his lungs burned. And then God could have let Jonah silently sink in exhaustion below the surface. He could have let Jonah drown.

But He didn’t.

God caused a life-threatening storm. He allowed Jonah to be thrown overboard. And then, “the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah…”

Swallowed whole.

Swallowed alive.

And the swallowing? It saved Jonah’s life. 

“I will let you be swallowed whole,” the Lord tells me, “not because I don’t love you, but because I do. The best thing you can do is what I am telling you to do. And if you have to be swallowed to be saved – swallowed before you’re convinced obeying Me might be a good idea – then that is what I will allow – that is what I will cause.”

It may feel like we are being swallowed alive – and, indeed, we may be – but salvation is in the swallowing.

Lord, help us trust You.

I Want to See You Be Brave

There’s something they don’t tell you about this Christianity thing when you sign up.

I’m not saying it would be a deal-breaker if you knew about it on the front end, but I am saying we’d think longer and harder about declaring Christ to be not just our Savior but also our LORD – our Master, our Ruler, the One from Whom we will take our orders forevermore – if a seasoned believer took the time to share the secret only they can know while they were sharing the Gospel with us.

When we meet Christ for the first time, when we realize He is what we’ve been looking for our whole lives and that we need Him more than we’d ever known, we tend to focus on the benefits we will receive if we accept Him. Namely, Heaven.

And that’s definitely not something to gloss over. Heaven is a huge deal, and Christ’s getting us in is something we should thankfully reflect on regularly. It should soak into our bones and spur us on to unashamed devotion and obedience to Him.

But what most of us miss when we accept Christ is that we are choosing a hard road.

What’s so hard about a free pass to Heaven?

It’s not free.

And I don’t mean that in the it-cost-Christ-everything kind of way most people say it.

I mean that in the it-will-cost-US-everything kind of way.

John said it like this, “We know that we have come to know [Jesus] if we obey his commands. The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him… Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did,” (1 John 2:3, 4, 6).

Calm down there, John, buddy. Alls I want is a get-out-of-hell-free card.

And that’s all most of us think we’re getting when we choose to believe in Jesus.

But we get so much more! You’ve heard it said Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship, and as much as I hate tired catch phrases, it expresses the truth that there is give and take with Jesus if you want to call yourself “Christian”.

Jesus gave His life for us, and we are to give ours for Him. Not on a cross, hopefully, but in daily obedience to what He says.

Which is fine and dandy until He starts asking us to do some things we don’t want to do.

And that day will come. And it will be H-A-R-D. Which is why no one includes that on their tracts.

The truth? If you want to follow Christ, you have to be brave.

I am raising two little girls who are terrified of animals. They both scream and cry and climb me like a tree if they see a dog… the size of a tea cup… 100 yards away… on a leash. They have broken into hysterics upon seeing a dog WHILE WE WERE IN THE CAR. If we go to someone’s house, they choke up and make me go ahead of them to ask the people if they have a dog and if they have put it away. We can’t go for walks or ride bikes in our neighborhood because a dog – what if we see one?!

We have regular conversations, then, about courage and bravery and what that means. And I always underscore something for my daughters.

Bravery is not the absence of fear; it’s the willingness to do what is right even when you are scared out of your mind. 

We cannot wait until we no longer feel afraid to act; we’ll never act.

My daughters cannot wait until the Lord supernaturally removes their fear of animals to go outside. Not to mention, there is something to be said for having a healthy fear of dogs they don’t know.

So it is with us. We cannot wait until the Lord takes away our fears of doing whatever it is He is asking us to do that makes us want to refuse to obey. We’d never get around to the obeying part. Which, thanks to our blunt friend, John, we know we must.

The Christian life is only for the brave. 

I want to see you be brave.

Reflections on Psalm 102

Psalm 102 begins with this caveat:  “A prayer of an afflicted person who has grown weak and pours out a lament before the LORD.”

Intriguing. I read on.

“Hear my prayer, LORD; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.”

Yes, I need Him to listen. I need Him to respond quickly. It’s all relative, I guess. When one day is like a thousand years and vice versa (2 Peter 3:8), how quick might this fix come?

“For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers.”

How long have things been like this? The days have given way to months, and I’ve lost count.

“My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food. In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones.”

It’s funny, at first, trying to imagine someone actually forgetting to eat. But this morning I had to cinch my belt as tightly as it would go, and I watch the number on the scale fall day by day. The joke’s on me.

“I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins. I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof.”

I sip my second cup of coffee and think of all the hours I saw pass me by last night: 9:32, 10:43, 11:21, 12:25, 2:41, 4:46, 5:28, 6:37…

“All day long my enemies taunt me; those who rail against me use my name as a curse.”

I can’t see the Enemy of my soul, but I know he’s there, trying to persuade the Lord my faith is self-serving, the same way he accused Job before God’s throne (Job 1:9-11). Is Satan right?

“For I eat ashes as my food and mingle my drink with tears because of your great wrath, for you have taken me up and thrown me aside.”

Like a warehouse that boasts of x number of days since its employees’ last accident, a sign hangs on the wall of my heart that reads, “0 days since your last tears”.

“My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass.”

I hope my withering isn’t as evident as grass dying in the summer heat or the winter cold…because then I’d have to explain it.  Just in case it is, I devise ways to throw off the casual observer… makeup covers the evidence long nights leave behind; t-shirts hide a shrinking waistline; I’ve been rehearsing “I’m good!” with just enough inflection to make it believable on a Sunday morning.

“But you, LORD, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations.”

Ah, this is the part of the psalm my Enemy doesn’t want me to get to. If the Lord is Lord forever, it doesn’t matter how quickly I estimate He is responding; He can take all the time He wants because all of time is His.

“You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come. For her stones are dear to your servants; her very dust moves them to pity.”

The Lord is a God of compassion and shows favor… His character has not changed since the days of Zion. I can trust He will show me compassion and favor too. But will I?

“The nations will fear the name of the LORD, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory. For the LORD will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory.”

I guess that’s what all this destruction is about… the Lord is going to rebuild me from the inside out to make His glory evident. But will I survive the demolition phase?

“He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.”

That sounds like a promise. There are no guarantees how He will respond, only that He will respond. Do I trust His response is best, even if I don’t understand how?

“Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD: ‘The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.'”

The Lord sees me. He hears me. He longs to release me that my children’s children will praise Him when they hear my story.

“So the name of the LORD will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the LORD. In the course of my life he broke my strength; he cut short my days.”

God has worn me down, not allowing me to settle for less than His best. This is actually an expression of His love for me. Will I receive it as such?

“So I said: ‘Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days; your years go on through all generations. In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.”

My approach to life has bought me a few days, but, if I continue in my ways, in the end, my plan will result in my death. Only the Lord’s way will endure forever; if I follow Him, I will live.

“The children of your servants will live in your presence; their descendants will be established before you.”

More is on the line than just me and my life. If I serve You, You will bless my children and grandchildren. I want that legacy for them. But I have to choose; You won’t choose for me.

Feeling Let Down By God

It’s been a long time since I’ve wept tears of frustration over the scriptures. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever done that… But I did Sunday night. Uncontrollably.

There are a lot of theological “issues” I can’t wrap my mind around, but most of them I can say, “I don’t know,” about, and leave them at that. For example, I can’t explain how to reconcile God’s sovereignty with man’s freewill. And I’m ok with that. This type of theological conundrum doesn’t necessarily affect me in the day to day. I don’t live and die by having answers or explanations about this and most other aspects of God.

But there is one issue in particular that doesn’t just stay in my mind; it creeps down into my heart and stirs up all kinds of emotion.  It plagues me. Two or three times per year for the past decade this issue has crept up, and life circumstances have demanded I form an opinion about it.

And every time it comes up, I study this issue in depth, with all of my intellectual and spiritual might. And every time I come away still not knowing what to believe about it.

image via zirconicusso/freedigitalphotos.net
image via zirconicusso/freedigitalphotos.net

This would be ok if my life didn’t necessitate I have a conviction one way or the other. But it does.

Which sets the scene for Sunday afternoon. The issue. There it was again, front and center, screaming at me, “WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE?!” I came home from church exhausted, but I pulled out my study Bible anyway and began to dig in. I read and reread all the passages on the subject I’ve read and reread countless times before.  I considered context and historical setting and all the different possible ways to interpret what I was reading.

I spent a couple hours pondering, periodically throwing out a prayer to God, “Lord! What does this mean?!” And when I didn’t get a reply, I got angry. I was angry at Paul for not being more clear. But, really, I was angry at God for allowing Paul to be unclear. I mean, God knew when Paul wrote and when the canon was settled that I would come on the scene in 1983 AD and need some clarity on this subject. And He still chose not to give it.

I closed the Bible, and the questions began.

Didn’t God care about me (and a whole bunch of others) enough to be clear on this subject? Why didn’t He plan accordingly? Didn’t He understand the desperate place my soul was in? Why didn’t He lead me to understanding? Doesn’t He want me to have a solid view of this issue so I can honor Him in my decisions? How can He expect me to obey Him when His instructions about this issue aren’t clear?

There is a subtle lie behind all these questions. If ever I think God should have done something differently – like dispensed scripture more clearly, for instance – I am really saying I know better than God. If I were in charge, would have been clear on this subject…

My anger mixed with depression. I got in the car and drove. Anywhere. Windows down. Music up. Waiting for the Lord to tell me something. He didn’t.

I returned home, put the kids to bed, and began to share with my husband my feelings of frustration. I angrily opened my Bible – the Book around which my whole life is centered – and I read a couple of perplexing sentences aloud. And then 10 years of uncertainty broke.

Right there on the tissue-thin pages of God’s Word, my tears fell. Hot rivers down my face, into my hands, washing away my anger, exposing the lies underneath.

I wasn’t so much angry as I was hurt. I felt like the Lord had let me down. It seemed like He hadn’t considered my very real need for clarity on this subject when he had decided all those years ago not to give clear directives about this topic.

While all this felt true, I knew it wasn’t… There has never been a moment in the entire scheme of eternity when the Lord wasn’t thinking about me. He knows everything about me. He knows what I need before I ask for it. He has never abandoned me, nor has He ever failed to plan for me.

Monday morning I awoke to an email from a friend who knew I was struggling, referring me to Proverbs 2.

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding– indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:1-6 NIV)

Instantly, the lies that had felt so true the night before lost their power. I was reminded of the personal nature of our God. He hadn’t failed to plan for me when He had Paul write scripture; God promises to give me wisdom, knowledge, and understanding Himself. He will, undoubtedly, use the scriptures to do so. But, ultimately, as John wrote, it’s God’s Holy Spirit that will lead me into all truth (John 16:13). And this Proverbs passage reiterates God’s trustworthiness to do so.

Later that day, I confessed to the Lord the wrong posture of my heart the night before. And I felt Him say, “I wept with you.” I hadn’t noticed Jesus when I was sobbing Sunday night. But when He informed me He had been weeping, too – that His heart broke because I was heart-broken – I felt His love again. Jesus went on to say, “I would never want to do anything that would hurt you. Believe the best of me always. I love you so.”

While I haven’t solved the seemingly unsolvable scriptural issue at hand, my confidence is renewed that God will faithfully and lovingly lead me in my search for wisdom.

And He’ll lead you in your search, too.

Inner Peace

In order to cope with life, we all have to find a source of peace. The emotional turmoil that we call life has to be quelled by something, or we’ll all end up in a mental facility.

Most Americans derive inner peace from outer sources. Exercise. Hobbies. Travel. Nature. Sleeping. Any number of things allow us to escape the reality of our problems… for a time. Even more inward practices like meditation and prayer can serve as escape mechanisms when we use them to focus our minds and our hearts on “peaceful” things.

The beautiful world the Lord has made gives us all kinds of opportunities to briefly forget our issues and be temporarily filled with good feelings. 

image via ponsuwan/freedigitalphotos.net
image via ponsuwan/freedigitalphotos.net

But then it’s back to reality. We can’t travel or sleep or watch TV forever… soon enough we have to deal with whatever is tormenting us at the moment. So it seems the gift of peace the world offers is fleeting. A band-aid on a wound that needs stitches. Ultimately ineffective.

When Jesus was prepping His disciples for His imminent departure, He said to them, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives,” (John 14:27).

How does the world give? Jesus doesn’t specify here, but you and I can guess. I’m suggesting the world gives in an ineffective way.

Somehow, Jesus’ peace is different than the world’s peace. His peace is constant. He is leaving it with the disciples – with us – and won’t be taking it back. We believers always have it, whether we choose to utilize it or not.

And because we always have Jesus’ peace, we have a true shot of having “inner peace” in the midst of our turmoil. We don’t have to escape from our problems to experience peace – we can have peace during our problems. We don’t have to dread coming home from a vacation or turning off our distracting television show, fearing our own thoughts and emotions surrounding certain issues will come flooding back.

Problems and peace are not incongruent for believers in Christ; both can happen simultaneously. Indeed, it’s His goal that they would happen together – for our sake and for His glory.

Easier said than done.

I think the key for making this concept a reality in our lives lies in the preceding verse. Jesus tells the disciples, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you,” (John 14:26).

In other words, the peace Jesus gives us is a result of the Holy Spirit inside of us helping us maintain proper perspective.

When we remember Jesus’ promises – He loves us, He’s coming back for us, He gives us eternal life, etc. – our peace-destroying problems are put in perspective. (How’d you like that alliteration?) We rest in His promises and gain that inner peace He wants us to have all the time.

As we learn to trust the Holy Spirit to teach us what we need to know when we need to know it, our adversities lose their urgency. Our emotions calm. We feel peace despite our circumstances screaming that we should feel frenzied.

We don’t need to seek peace; we have peace in Jesus. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us tap into Jesus’ peace today.