Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 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.
“… but in everything… ” and “… do not be anxious about anything… ” Beautiful words that are easy to hear when we are not in the middle of the death of a child or of a parent. These admonitions seem effortless when we are not amidst social strife that separates friend from friend and breaks apart families, or facing uncertainty at work that makes people question their perceived value and security. Spurning anxiousness happens naturally absent loss of employment that leaves families in economic stress that pushes them to the brink.
The last two years have been filled with anxiety-inducing experiences at personal and corporate levels. The wounds for many are deep and the losses seem insurmountable. The wounds of the last few years, for me personally, are deep. The experiences of the recent past have left figurative and literal scars. My heart will never be the same. The losses were large and the lessons came at steep prices.
Yet our good God, a Father who gives perfect gifts to us, His children, promises that our tears are not wasted (Psalm 56:8). The cost has a perfect gift for those who receive it. We can live in hope and without anxiousness. We can live in peace that surpasses circumstances and understanding (Ephesians 3:20–21). Christ came to earth, lived, taught, died and rose to conquer the power of anxiety, hopelessness, despair and grief.
We can rejoice because the truth will win and has already won. We take comfort in the midst of the storms of life knowing that the peace of God can be ours, as a salve on our wounds and a hedge of protection around our hearts.
This peace is available even as the chaos rages when we rejoice through our tears, knowing our God is good. We find this peace when we turn to God, talk to God, dwell in our Father’s presence, telling Him what fills our hearts. When we still ourselves with God and spill out all the tears, the hurts, the fears, the betrayals, the brokenness, He promises we will find peace.
Just as Jesus prepared to do His Father’s will by often stealing away to be in His Father’s presence (Mark 1:35; Luke 4:42; Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12; Luke 9:18, 28; Matthew 26:36–45; Mark 14:32–41; Luke 22:39–46), we prepare for the realities of living in this fallen world by being with Him, talking with Him, listening to and meditating on His Word (Hebrews 4:12; Proverbs 30:5–6; John 8:31–32).
The storm may rage, but as Jesus pulled Peter out of the water when his hope faltered, we will not drown (Matthew 14:22–33). He will grab our hands and give us peace in all situations when we turn to Him. In His strength and truth, we can display this hope… this peace… to others as we walk with Him.
The Lord is at hand! Peace on earth! Rejoice!
Dr. Virginia Beard is an associate professor of political science at Hope College.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.