High blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, heart attacks—all of these serious health issues are related to or seriously affected by stress. There are many more, of course. Some of the more “modern” diseases, those which are difficult to diagnose or cure, may be caused by stress. Add to that the health issues that come from behavior precipitated by stress—smoking, drinking, over-eating, etc. Stress is hard on us.
The Lord designed our bodies to respond to attack or danger in certain ways. Blood pressure, digestion, conversion of sugar to energy—these things change so that we are better prepared to fight or run or endure. But when our minds see danger where there is none, our bodies still prepare. Stress is usually the perception of danger.
Think about the last several times you suffered stress. Was there real danger? Did your body need to prepare for fight or flight? You might have had to make decisions, even serious decisions, but did your blood pressure need to go up? Probably not.
A good deal of the struggle we suffer comes from our perspective on the things of life. We can look at the same situation different ways. From one position, a job loss feels like we are being thrown into the sea without a life jacket or raft, doomed to failure and death. From another, that same job loss opens the door to a whole new life, one with more opportunity to fulfill our dreams. Much is affected by how we look at these things.
So, if you continue to sort through what was given to you in salvation, you will find a precious, but under-valued and under-utilized gift, the gift of peace.
Over and over God says that He gives peace to His people. Yet, I have found so many believers who live without peace. They live in fear of the future, fear of God, and anxiety because of sin. They long for peace, but live in stress. Sadly, they go to church and, instead of being told of the peace that is their gift, they receive more stress.
But the Lord offers peace. Peace in the midst of any trouble. Peace for the future and the past. The call that some teachers bring, the call to worry and fear, is a lie for believers. We are called to peace.
And this is not the deceptive peace of the world. You know what I mean. Just don’t think about the trouble. Just focus on the good in life. Block out all negative thoughts. That’s what the world offers. In fact, that’s about the best the world offers. And we always know the trouble is still there. And we are still inadequate to face it.
The Lord gives us peace in Himself. We face a world bigger than us and trouble bigger than us. But nothing is bigger than He is. He doesn’t push us out into this difficult world to fend for ourselves. He is with us—always. He is with us Himself, in person, in relationship. We face nothing alone—ever.
So we have peace concerning our future because our future is secure in Him. We have peace concerning our past because He has healed and redeemed our past. We have peace in the most difficult of circumstances because He is with us. That’s the amazing promise He gives to His people.
I know that there are times when we fear. Peace is not the absence of fear. Peace is the security and assurance we have in the midst of fear. One of the most powerful verses in Scripture is Psalm 56:3 .
“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.”