In my Bible Study on the Armor of God, I have a chapter on peace. With all that is going on in our world right now, I thought peace would be a good thing to talk about today.
Many people think of peace as the absence of conflict and fear. We feel an emotional sense of peace when all is well with us. But true peace – biblical peace – is so much more than an emotional feeling. It is a state of mind, an attitude of readiness and calm in the midst of any circumstances. When Paul told us to strap on shoes “fitted with … the gospel of peace” as part of our spiritual armor, he was preparing us for battle (Ephesians 6:15). To be truly effective in battle, we need our hearts and minds to be at peace.
I’ve heard it said that courage is not the absence of fear; it’s doing what’s right in spite of our fear. We could also say that peace is not the absence of fear. It’s finding an inner calm while facing our fear.
Most people I know try to fight fear by being strong and acting as if there is nothing to fear. They push fear away and refuse to feel it, or they stuff it down inside and refuse to deal with it. I’m going to recommend something quite drastic instead. Let’s look for the good side of fear.
To begin, we have to admit that our fears are valid. There is good reason to be afraid right now – afraid for our health and the health of our loved ones, afraid for our jobs and income, afraid for our economy. Every decision we make will have unknown ramifications. Do we stay in and further damage the economy or risk losing our jobs or businesses? Do we go out and risk being infected or spreading an infection we didn’t know we had? Each of us has our own unique situation and our risk factors, so our level of fear may be higher or lower than others around us. But we all have something to fear if we’re honest about it.
Next, we should realize that fear can motivate us in good ways as well as bad ways. If we choose to focus on the good, fear can actually help us. Pain is something none of us want in our lives, but we would be in big trouble if we couldn’t feel pain. When you put your hand down on a hot oven range, it’s pain that motivates you to move your hand away quickly, minimizing the damage. Fear can also help us minimize damage by keeping us from doing things that can harm us physically or emotionally. Being afraid of a rattlesnake is a good thing. Being paralyzed by that fear is not.
So how do we find peace and maintain an inner calm in spite of real things to fear? Here are my thoughts:
1. Be informed. Learn what you can about the current medical crisis, looking to trustworthy sources for your information.
2. Be careful. When possible, take the advice of medical professionals and keep your risk of infection low.
3. Be compassionate. I hope you can say like I do, “There are a lot of people worse off than me because of this situation.” Your next thought should be, “Is there anything I can do to help someone today?” –even if that just means staying inside to keep the virus from spreading.
4. Keep praying. Pray especially for those who are facing this crisis without God, without the assurance of their eternal salvation and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
5. Focus on what God has done for you. Take time during this crisis to renew and deepen your trust in the God who is greater than any fearful circumstance and who has promised to never leave you or forsake you.
6. Let your peace be a light for others. If you’re going out, keep smiling, be kind to others, and serve others to the best of your ability. If you’re staying in, be a positive influence on social media and with anyone you talk to.
7. Be willing to face risk for others. I could say a lot about this point, but each of us will have to figure this one out for ourselves.
We can find peace in the face of our fears—not by denying the fear but by trusting in the God who is greater than our fears.
What is my mission as an author? The goal dearest to my heart is to help Christians think about what they really believe and then to act as if they believe it. It all begins with understanding what it means to be a Christian. Then we have to learn to live like a Christian.