Have you experienced the elusive peace amid pain?
Twenty-nine years ago, my mother was killed by a drunk driver at the age of forty-five. It rocked my world, caused me to question everything I knew about God, and has reshaped every day of my life since.
I honor her life with my life and will to the day I die. Her godly fingerprints are all over my life.
I remember when my mother was killed, it sent me into great season of chaos, confusion, and anxiety in my life. But God was faithful to help me through it and eventually gave me peace.
Once you and I experience that elusive peace that God has for us in the anxiety, pain, sorrow, and loss of our lives, how do we learn to live in it?
How do we remain in this peaceful encouragement? The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:1 to stand firm in the Lord.
All of us probably know by now the challenges of our lives are not going to stop. You and I are going to be faced with challenges in some way or another until the day we die.
In light of this reality, it is important that we make a decision today and every day to stand firm in the Lord. What does that mean?
Let me say it another way, “Don’t quit!!” Half the battle is showing up. Keep showing up for the Lord. Keep declaring that He is worth the sacrifices of your life. Keep offering him sacrifices of worship when you don’t feel like it, when you are overwhelmed. Posture yourself to receive what God has for you.
Where in your life do you need to stand firm? Where do you need to stand up and say like Lauren Daigle, “I am not running, I will stand my ground where hope and peace can be found.” God hears your cry, and He will attend to your need, don’t run, don’t hide, don’t quit. He is drawing near to you and near to the battle that feels like it will consume you.
As you stand firm, Paul tells us in Philippians 4:2 to agree in the Lord.
Half the battle is showing up.
The other half is getting along with those you are in the battle with.
Statistics for years have proven that the number one reason missionaries leave the mission field is because they can’t get along with other missionaries.
Statistics also show that the average pastor leaves a church over three to five people who don’t agree with him or her.
If we want to live in ongoing peace, we have to stand firm in what we are facing and commit to get along with those God has called us to serve with. Now, both of these take effort on all parties involved in the equation.
Where do you need to stand firm in your life? Who is God asking you to get along with in your life so His mission can go forth? Say, “yes” to both today.
God’s peace comes when we practice patience in the trials of our lives and the disagreements we face in the relationships of our lives.
As we stand firm and seek to get along with those we serve with, we have to be careful to keep our attitude and our perspective of the circumstances and relationships of our lives in check.
Paul tells us in Philippians 4:4 to rejoice in the Lord, always.
It is that last word that makes this imperative so difficult. I can rejoice when I want too. I can rejoice when I get what I want. I can rejoice when things are going the way I want them to go. But what about when they aren’t?
What does it mean to rejoice always? It means we are to find something to always say “thank you” to the Lord for and rejoice over it.
As you look back on your life, where did you think it was “over” and God sustained you and it? Turn now and give him glory and rejoice over His faithfulness in your life in the face of what you are going through now.
As you stand firm, get along with those you serve with, and rejoice always, Paul then tells us in Philippians 4:5 to let our reasonableness be known to everyone because the Lord is at hand.
Reasonable means levelheaded, practical, realistic, logical, sound, and evenhanded.
Don’t let your emotions rule you. Let the closeness of God’s presence rule you.
Invite Him into the chaotic spaces of your mind and life and relationships. Invite Him into the places of your story you don’t understand or having trouble dealing with in your life.
As you invite God into these chaotic and anxious spaces of your mind, Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6 to not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Let me say it a simpler way, “Stop worrying and start trusting Him.”
That’s easier said than done, right? When you are laying on an operating table, or siting at your kitchen table trying to figure out how to make ends meet or saying goodbye to a love one or letting go of a long-time friendship or continuing to grieve the loss of something or someone in your life. These and other moments are not easy moments. But God can and does meet you in them.
I want to encourage you today to stand firm as you seek to get along with others through learning to rejoice always. May you challenge yourself to be reasonable in difficult moments because God is near you. This acknowledgement will help you to stop worrying and put your trust in God’s sovereign presence and control in your life.
If you put these things into practice, the anxious circumstances that surround your life today cannot stop you from experience His peace in Jesus name. God wants to meet you in your ongoing pain and bring peace to your soul, today.
Kelly Williams is co-founder and senior pastor of Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His books include: The Mystery of 23, Friend of Sinners and Real Marriage. He also maintains a blog.