Written By: Chris Mace
We long for that elusive state of inner calmness, of being untroubled…Yet, our imperfect natures and this chaotic world guarantee we will never be free from situations, relationships, and circumstances which are distressing. Frustration, disappointment, and angst are part of the human experience. So, we are restless souls who spend considerable effort to make life enjoyable, to minimize stress, anxiety, and depression.
“Serenity making” is a lucrative business. We take massages and spa holidays, read self- help books, meditate, listen to music, and seek therapy. We go on “relaxing” vacations, exercise, take social media breaks, and practice mindfulness. We enrich pharmaceutical companies and experiment with illicit and legal mind altering drugs for temporary relief from stress. But even then, we are still restless, dissatisfied, unfulfilled. What we value and do may be good but still is lacking. Generosity, charity, service, compassion, independence, endurance, and hard work are noble qualities and efforts, but they do not guarantee contentment. Self-realization, chasing personal desires, and exerting our rights are motivators to justify our existence but in the end are hollow endeavors.
Where we look for meaning and purpose is the biggest factor to inner peace. If life is without a grander purpose, then we are condemned to futilely circle around and around on this lonely planet as puny, pathetic, empty individuals without hope or lasting legacy.
Scripture gives us an alternate view point, one that is wildly grand, poetic, and imaginative yet appeals to intellect and soul because it is both rational and intuitive. Life is indeed about us but with a twist. It is about creative intent, about who we are intended to be and why we have a distorted view of ourselves.
Scripture tells us that God exists and is good and that He created us with the wonderful intent that we would experience His goodness and possess His just and loving nature. However, because of doubt and ambition, humanity lost its innocence and has been restlessly searching for restoration ever since Eden. Sinful willfulness separates us from God’s holy, just character and interferes with the realization that the most glorious and fulfilling way to be our “best selves” is living in God’s image.
There is no way we can gin up goodness enough to save ourselves. However, in astonishing compassion and love, God responds to our rebellious hearts with a merciful redemption offer. “It is not by works of righteousness that we have done but by His mercy He saves us.” (Titus 3:5-7) By God’s grace we can be restored to a relationship with our Creator because He loves and purposes to preserve His creation through Christ.
Christ knew the joy of his Father’s love and presence and vowed to share them with us: “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.” (John 14:27)
Christ became our path to God when he paid the penalty of our rebellious spirits and assumed the condemnation for our sins as he suffered the indignity and horrors of the cross. Because of his righteousness we may be redeemed. He has provided us with what the world cannot: forgiveness, freedom from fear of condemnation and death, his righteousness, God’s providential care, a heavenly inheritance, and a new spirit blessed with joy, peace and hope.
Our part is believing with a faith that is more than intellectual but is substantive enough to trust and follow. Confidence in God’s love, power, sovereignty and providence was why African American slaves could sing “peace like a river floods my soul”. Horatio Spafford, who upon learning of the tragic loss of his four daughters at sea, immediately wrote the hymn “It is Well with My Soul. ” In it, he expressed this extraordinary peace which courageously weathers storms which threaten to undo us : “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrow like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well with my soul…”
If we search Scripture and accept the purposes of Christ’s death on our behalf, then we can not doubt God’s loving intentions. We are meant to be under His care. What greater rest could there be than in the peace “of” God—a peace which is not self generated but is sourced in God’s nature, His presence with us, and His powerful providential care? Such faith defies understanding but brings comfort and rest to the burdened and weary. (Matthew 11:29)(Philippians 4:7)