Serenity NOW!

How to find peace in any circumstance

By Brooke Stacia Demott

You know the phrase, “Put your money where your mouth is?”

Ever since I started writing this series on spiritual fruit, life has demanded that I ante up. In other words, it’s gotten difficult around here.

Writing about love made me painfully aware that I was pretty selfish, and just how much it was hurting my family. I realized that I needed God to show me how to really love these people.

When I wrote about joy, we suffered a miscarriage. My chronic health problems became worse, and at times I felt overcome with depression. I struggled to remember that joy is rooted in God’s reassuring presence.

And now, writing about peace, I confess that this season has me absolutely drowning in worry.

It makes sense, really. God is compassionate, and He uses suffering to make us compassionate toward one another.

Nobody can teach from a spiritual ivory tower and expect to be relatable. Even Jesus didn’t do that. He walked with broken people like us and shared in our suffering, so we could trust Him.

God is bringing me through difficulty, to make me useful. That gives me a sense peace.

Why?

Even in trial, peace can be found in knowing our purpose.

Grappling with worry

Worry builds its own momentum. Problems snowball in our minds, gaining size and strength as we roll them down the mountain of fearful uncertainty. Sooner or later, they will bury us.

Without confidence in the future, worry is the natural inclination of our hearts. Unchecked anxiety and stress reach an ugly crescendo in depression; often, we find ourselves paralyzed with fear of the unknown.

Young folks, equipped with strong bodies and adventurous spirits, stride toward the future with a sense of authority. But as we get older, there is a gradual shift.

Our kids grow up and start making decisions independent of our hopes for them. Mundane careers send us strolling down the daydream-lit roads of missed opportunity. Health declines; our thoughts turn to life insurance, medical expenses, and retirement.

We begin to understand just how little control we ever had.

Believe it or not, this is the first step toward real peace.

The world’s peace

The world’s version of peace is only available to us when all the stars align. The American dreamer (or, perhaps, any human dreamer) strives endlessly for financial security, new experiences, perfect health, and a good reputation. Something out there convinces us that having it all will bring us lasting happiness.

And when we are close, we think to ourselves, “If I just had … then I would be happy.” Right now, it’s tempting to reason to myself that if only my health were restored, then I could be at peace. But inevitably, another disruption will replace this one, and I have to recognize the truth: No matter what I gain, there will always be something I lack.

God’s peace

There is a powerful, steady peace available to us irrespective of situation. It’s the assurance that God is working out a plan that we can’t fully see, but one day, we will.

We must accept the reality of our greatest fear: We aren’t really in control. Our best-laid plans could turn out brilliantly, but they might not. And that’s OK.

Watch closely for God’s hand in your life; His plans are often different than ours. Sometimes that means unforeseen obstacles, but pay attention — He is using the difficulties of the present season to prepare you for the next one.

Because trial brings perseverance, perseverance molds character, and character gives us the strength to withstand difficulty with confidence and hope.

Take every opportunity in hardship to learn from Him; He is growing your character.

Worldly peace can only be sustained as long as life goes according to our plans. God’s peace comes when we surrender ourselves to His plan and ask Him for wisdom to navigate it.

Don’t let that word “surrender” fool you. Surrender in God’s economy isn’t “doing nothing.” Do everything you can — and trust Him for what you can’t. He is already in control; to surrender just means to rest in that.

Instead of being anxious, pray for what you need with gratitude for what you have. You will find that the peace of God will guard your heart when problems threaten to drag you under. And since there is nothing you can do about tomorrow, focus on today.

When you are tempted to worry, remember that “this too shall pass,” and put your hope in God.

• Brooke Stacia Demott is a columnist with In Good Health newspaper. Got a question for Demott? Feel free to email her at brooketo@aol.com.

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