*Republished from November 13, 2017
I hope you’ve been redeeming thanksgiving with me this month! If you haven’t noticed, Hope for Today has also been focusing on developing a thankful heart all month. My prayer is that by the time Thanksgiving actually rolls around we’ll have set the world on fire with our exuberant praises for the Lord God Almighty! Last week we learned how a thankful heart can produce hope and joy. Today, let’s look at another by-product of thanksgiving:
The Peace of God
Philippians 4:6-7 – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Peace – it’s a “state of being” more coveted than any other. How we all long for peace! We’ve created prestigious prizes to honor those who have contributed to the world’s quest to secure it; but the sad truth is, peace is unattainable through human efforts. No striving, no program, no method will work if they do not include God. It is only His peace, the peace that exceeds anything we can understand that will provide lasting comfort. It is only God’s peace that promises to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!
John 14:27 – I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
When Peace Alludes Me
I wonder what it would be like to go through life without anxieties or fears? I wonder what it would be like to never worry about anything? Despite my knowledge of the peace that comes from God, I am disappointed to confess that it’s not something I’ve always experienced. Unfortunately, when life has handed me lemons, I have sucked on those lemons and puckered up in sour self-pity far too many times. (Which is really sad, because I really love to refresh myself and others with a nice glass of lemonade! What wasted opportunities!)
So what gives? I’m a student of the Word – a devoted follower of God from a very young age. I seek Him daily, I pray throughout the day pretty much every day, I try to be obedient when I sense His leading. Why do I still fail to experience His peace so many times? I really hate to admit it, but the answer is this – I tend to focus on the injustices in my life rather than on the blessings.
When my world turns upside down, I more often than not will mentally recall each time I’ve felt that way in the past. I’ll dwell on my unfair lot in life for days, weeks, or a few times, even months! I’m ashamed to say, I’ve often questioned God and His goodness in those dark times. I’ve also questioned His love. Is it any wonder His peace alluded me? What peace could there be for one who so clearly does not trust Him?
A Peace that Passes All Understanding
The good news is that while I’ve gotten it wrong far too many times, I’ve also gotten it right a handful of times. And since that’s true, it’s easy to pinpoint the difference.
Isaiah 26: 3– You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!
Isaiah 26:12-13 Lord, You will grant us peace; all we have accomplished is really from You. Oh Lord our God, others
It’s a matter of trust. A matter of focus. A matter of thankfulness. Each time I’ve focused on the injustices, I have failed to trust God. I have refused to fix my thoughts on Him. I have stubbornly withheld my worship and declined to acknowledge His blessings. I have rejected His goodness and denied His love. And so, I have missed out on His perfect peace. What a tragedy!Each time I focus on the injustices in my life I am refusing to fix my thoughts on Him. I stubbornly withhold my worship; declining to acknowledge His blessings. I reject His goodness and deny His love, and so miss out on His perfect peace. Tragic! Click To Tweet
On the other hand, the times when I have trusted Him have produced in me a genuine peace. One that, without question, exceeds anything we could understand. The difference is that during those times, I have kept my mind laser focused on the faithfulness of my Lord. I have been intentional about remembering all the ways He has blessed me. All the times He has come through for me. All the times He has protected me from calamity. All the times I didn’t understand what was happening until years later when I looked back and saw His work with clarity. And I have thanked Him for it.
During those times I’ve read the stories of people like Joseph, Hannah, Esther, David, and many others who had to wait on God through difficult and confusing times. People who endured great trials in order to attain a blessing that far outweighed them all. It renews in me the confidence that my story will be no different, and I have praised Him.
I won’t always understand today what will end up being a blessing tomorrow, or next month, or even years from now. But I can have confidence in the One who is writing my story. I can know that He has already overcome, and I can rest in that knowledge.
John 16:33 – I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
I won't always understand today what will end up being a blessing tomorrow, or next month, or even years from now. But I can have confidence in the One who is writing my story. I can know that He has already overcome, and I can rest in that knowledge. Click To Tweet
Choosing to Live Thankful
There is no season in which these truths have been more evident than through this past year. While the year before I had chosen the lemons, this year I chose the lemonade. And what a year it’s been! Frankly, I don’t think there has been any time in my life when I have had more reason to sulk in self-pity. I don’t know what made me chose the right thing, but boy am I glad I did! It has been a year of victory! I think this passage in Psalms 57 beautifully sums up how I feel:
Psalms 57:7-11 – My heart is confident in You, oh God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing Your praises! Wake up, my heart! Wake up, oh lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn with my song. I will thank You, Lord, among all the people. I will sing Your praises among the nations. For Your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches the clouds. Be exalted, oh God, above the highest heavens. May Your glory shine over all the earth.
I pray I never go back. I pray that, as He fills me with His perfect peace, I will hold onto Him with everything in me. I pray I’ll never again reject His goodness. Much of what I’m doing here on this blog stems from that desire. I want to document and share His mighty deeds so that I will never again forget what He has done. I want to proclaim His goodness to others in hopes that my story will spark a renewed confidence in the God who has accomplished it all. I want to live out this Psalm:
Psalms 105:1-8 – Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim His greatness. Let the whole world know what He has done. Sing to Him; yes, sing His praises. Tell everyone about His wonderful deeds. Exult His Holy Name; rejoice, you who worship the Lord. Search for the Lord and for His strength; continually seek Him. Remember the wonders He has performed, His miracles, and the rulings He has given, you children of His servant Abraham, you descendants of Jacob, His chosen ones. He is the Lord our God. His justice is seen throughout the land. He always stands by His covenant – the commitment He made to a thousand generations.
Dear sisters, I don’t know what it is you face today. It may be a trial greater than I can even imagine. Or, it may be something very similar to what I’ve experienced. Whatever it is, I do know this one thing: Our God is good! I earnestly pray that He will show you His goodness, and that you will receive it. I pray my story of both success and failure will remind you that getting stuck in your pit isn’t helping anyone. I pray that you’ll choose with me to focus on what God HAS done. That we’ll all rejoice together in our salvation and place our futures into His sovereign care.
Colossians 3:15-17 – And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your heats. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as representatives of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
*How about you? Are you more likely to focus on God’s faithfulness, or on your trials? What have you experienced through each of those decisions?
***Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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