It seems daily we wake up to more news of continued upheaval, war, injustice, and senseless violence everywhere. Despite the many initiatives put forth and strategies employed, a lasting solution for global peace remains elusive. In a world teeming with turmoil and unrest, people yearn for changes that will bring peace.
And in our own personal world, we’re often beset by troubles. Even we believers may think that if something in our lives would just change, we’ll find inner peace: If only I had a smoother family life or the right job, all would be well. If only I didn’t have this problem or that hardship, I’d be at peace.
But are changes in our circumstances alone the way to inner peace?
The source of peace
To see how we can have true inner peace, let’s first look at two verses in the Gospel of John.
1. John 14:27:
“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, neither let it be afraid.”
This verse tells us a few things. First, the Lord Jesus said what He gives is His peace, the peace of the One who is the eternal God of peace Himself; He is the unique source of peace. Second, the Lord gives us true peace, which makes it altogether different from what the world gives; no matter what changes are brought about, that peace isn’t real or lasting.
2. John 16:33:
“These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have affliction, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Here the Lord Jesus said that in Him we may have peace, not just that He will give us peace. This tells us peace isn’t something separate or apart from Him; it’s in Him, His person. That’s why it’s vain to look for peace anywhere else.
We should also notice here that the Lord didn’t promise, “You will not have affliction.” Nor did He say, “You might not have affliction.” He said plainly, “In the world you have affliction.” Although we’re saved, we’re still living in this troubled world of suffering and distress. But the Lord Jesus comforted us, promising that in the midst of afflictions, we may have peace in Him.
These verses help us see that having true inner peace doesn’t depend on whether we have a smooth environment but on whether we look to the Lord, the source of peace, whatever our circumstances may be, especially in the midst of troubles.
But how do we look to the Lord to have the true peace that’s in Him?
The key to experiencing peace
Paul gives us the key in Philippians 4:6-7:
“In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses every man’s understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.”
Unsettling news, poor health, marital friction, workplace struggles, and many other things naturally fill us with anxiety. We can’t escape difficulties, but we can have the peace of God. The key is prayer and petition with thanksgiving. By turning our heart to contact God in our spirit through prayer we commune with Him, and this brings in a marvelous result. Note 1 in the New Testament Recovery Version says,
“The result of practicing fellowship with God in prayer is that we enjoy the peace of God. The peace of God is actually God as peace (v. 9) infused into us through our fellowship with Him by prayer, as the counterpoise to troubles and the antidote to anxiety (John 16:33).”
In sweet fellowship with God, we’re revived and refreshed. As we petition Him particularly concerning our needs, God infuses us with Himself as peace. We’re turned from complaining about our situation to thanking Him. Our environment may not change, but we’re changed. And our hearts and thoughts are guarded by the peace of God, saving us from being consumed with worry.
Enjoying the peace of God daily
We can enjoy God’s peace at any time. Throughout the day, when anxious thoughts come to us we can turn our heart to Him, pray, call on His name, sing to Him, or simply talk to Him to be in the God-infusing fellowship with the Lord. We’ll then have God as the true inner peace and rest, a much-needed antidote to our easily troubled soul.