People are calling it an epidemic. And maybe they’re right. I don’t know about you, but in the past year I’ve heard more about anxiety, stress, and depression than I ever have before. I remember when anxiety and depression seemed like rare words, but nowadays it seems to come up in every second conversation. The reality is that more and more people are suffering with something that ought to be a genuine concern for all of us because it is very real and very harmful.
This dramatic change is forcing a lot of people to ask two pretty major questions: 1) What’s causing the increase? And 2) What do we do about it?
What it seems like people are searching for is this wonderful little word called “peace.”
I don’t want to presume to answer the first of these two, because I think it merits a much larger conversation. Particularly because I’m not convinced that any one thing, apart from sin itself, has been the ultimate cause. However, I do want to offer some thoughts concerning the second question.
Now, I want to be careful, because I can’t speak from significant personal experience. But in the same breath, as Christians, regardless of our experience, we want to hold fast to our conviction that the Word of God never fails to be true.
What it seems like people are searching for is this wonderful little word called “peace.” And certainly, as Christians, we have much to say on that subject. Particularly because the God we serve is none other than the “God of Peace” (Rom 15:33).
Let’s take a look at 3 particular passages in Scripture that I think lead us ultimately to the same conclusion: True and lasting peace is only ever found in God Himself.
In John 14:27, Jesus says this to His disciples who are anxious at the thought of Him leaving: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Then, in Galatians 5:22 we notice that Paul includes “peace” in his list of the fruit of the Spirit. And finally, perhaps one of my favourite passages, Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
No matter how hard they may strive, the people of this world will never know peace unless they know Christ.
Those are some pretty wonderful verses in the Word of God. And there are certainly more! But what we need to see is that these verses never suggest that peace can come to us apart from through the Lord Himself.
We need to be clear about what this means. No matter how hard they may strive, the people of this world will never know peace unless they know Christ. And we, who know Christ, have no hope of finding peace unless we look for it in Him.
It’s important to understand that the ultimate cause of our “peacelessness,” despite all sorts of changes in our society and culture, is sin itself. And the reality is that sin will plague us until the day we die or until Christ returns. So, I don’t think that the Word presents Jesus to be the guaranteed antidote for any kind of stress, anxiety, or depression you may feel in this life. This may be something God wants to use to shape you into the image of His Son, much like Paul’s thorn in the flesh.
However, when He does return and those who are in Christ are invited by Him into the dwelling place that He has prepared for us, then I can tell you with certainty that there you will have peace. But the reason you will have peace isn’t simply because sin won’t be there, though that’s true, it’s because Jesus will be.
Remember that any earthly practice without the involvement of heaven will ultimately be pointless.
So, I want to encourage you to do what might feel a little counterproductive. Don’t go looking for peace. Go looking for Jesus. In the end, He is the only place you will find it.
Don’t be afraid to go looking for books, and hearing from people’s experiences about overcoming their struggle, those things could actually be really important. But remember that any earthly practice without the involvement of heaven will ultimately be pointless.
And if you personally aren’t dealing with this struggle, then I want to encourage you to not belittle it or look down on others who are struggling. Be someone who love’s their neighbour with a whole lot of kindness and a whole lot of prayer. If you long for someone to find peace, pray that Christ would grant it to them.
Let’s hope and pray for one another what Paul did for the Churches: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.