Peace is often portrayed as an idea, an abstract thought that has no real foundation. The word peace might bring to mind sunshiny, breezy days with clear blue water on the beach. We might think of sitting in a hammock under a tree reading a book. Others may think of cooking, sewing, baking, shopping, or something else as an idea of peace. Peace can be conveyed through writing, for some it is meditation, for others it is through spirituality and religious experiences.
For many people in today’s world, peace is a far-fetched idea. We are wired to receive the most noise that is simultaneously possible. It is abnormal for many people to have a sense of silence, peace, or quiet around them. From sun up to sun down, and even way past that time, people and things are moving. For good or ill, people are talking, planning, and strategizing. Peace is absent from a world accustomed to noise but desperately craving silence. At our core, we are all screaming for an existence that is tranquil; a blessed inner serenity that causes us to intentionally lose hearing of the many forces that challenge us and beg for our attention.
Peace is often evaded by our want for more of nearly everything. For many people, what is here and now is not enough. If our next door neighbor has a new car, we, too want a new car. Instead of moving forward in our own individuality, we try to keep up appearances, and attempt to be like and look like everyone else. Our lack of rest and contentment in solitude speaks volumes. Our world is restless as everyone seems to be trying to find that thing or that person that will calm them and satisfy their every need. We run with all our might seeking peace in more stuff. The more stuff we have, the less we are at peace because real peace cannot be found in stuff, people, or mere existence.
Real peace can only be found in Jesus Christ. He replaces all of our earthly wants and fleshly desires with a calm that is permanent. Real peace allows us to express gratitude for all that we have right now and allows us to appreciate our present situation, whatever it is. It is an unspeakable, indescribable satisfaction that whatever happens is for our good. If it is good, we can be grateful for it. If it is bad, we can be grateful for the lessons we learn from it. The gratitude in our heart is a direct result of the peace that exists in our soul. We don’t have to beg for it or bargain for it. Peace is available to every person but we must choose to live our lives as God would have us live them, with contentment and thanksgiving.
I am reminded of the story in of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42. Martha and Mary were sisters who had invited Jesus to come to their house. They both loved the Lord dearly and equally, I’m sure. They both wanted Him to be comfortable during His stay. But while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus listening to Him speak, Martha busied herself preparing dinner. When Martha saw that Mary was not helping her, she complained to Jesus about the problem or the perceived problem. You would think that Jesus would have sympathized with her, but He did not. Instead, He replied, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.” Mary wanted to sit and listen to Jesus because He had something that she needed and she desperately wanted. He had the peace that she wanted to have in her heart after her brother, Lazarus, had just died. She wanted to be at His feet because she realized that Jesus had the words of life and she desperately needed to hear those words.
Martha was stressed and greatly concerned about something, that in the grand scheme of things, really didn’t matter. The peace she should have had was for the time being absent. She was focused on what she could do for Jesus instead of what Jesus could do for her. Jesus said to her, “Mary has chosen what is better.”
We, too, are often worried and upset about many things. In this topsy-turvy world, there is justified reason to be so. But when we get our mind off of ourselves, people, situations, or what we may or may not have, and turn our concerns and worries over to Jesus, we open the door for real peace to come in to our lives and give us the rest we want and desperately need. When we have real peace on the inside, nothing at all can disrupt it or take it away. While Martha was concerned with many temporary, earthly things, Mary chose to sit at the feet of the Prince of Peace.
When we choose to be grateful for every situation in life, we will find peace in our lives. For the peaceful person, it does not matter whether they lose material things. Those who have real peace know that everything happens for a reason, and whatever that reason is, they accept it as good and make the best out of it. A person at peace is unshaken when tragedy strikes because he or she knows that what goes on in the world is ultimately orchestrated and controlled by a Person who is mightier than all of us. Peace is not the absence of sorrow, sickness, and sadness, but the knowledge that all these things exist, and life can still be appreciated as it has been given.
I think we can compare ourselves to the raging sea that Jesus had to calm and the worried disciples that Jesus had to comfort. While the rest of the world fights and wars for what is oftentimes not necessary or needed, God offers peace to those who turn to Him and put their minds on Him. Wherever we have peace, we can be grateful. We can be grateful when the storms of life are raging and we can be grateful for peace in the middle of the raging storms. Storms force us to be grateful for the calm days and those uneventful days can prepare us to be thankful when the stormy times come. Peace is not the absence of trouble, it is the acceptance of it. And when we accept such things in life, we can be grateful for the experiences.
Job comes to mind here. Job had everything in the world at one time. He had houses, land, a wife, ten children, thousands of cattle, servants, honor, and respect among his people. Anything he could want, he could get. I am pretty sure he could make almost anything happen in his community. He was the big man in the city. He knew all the decision-makers and they knew him. Money was not an issue for him, neither was having the finer things of life. Job had all the material stuff. But the Bible indicates that Job had much more than transitory, temporary things. He had an unwavering confidence in God that He would eventually work everything out. He knew that all he had and all he was able to do was because of God’s blessings on his life.
After the Bible tells us about Job’s wealth and good fortune, it takes a negative turn. Job drops from being on top of the world to being an outcast of society. In one day, he loses everything he ever had; everything he had ever worked for was gone in a matter of hours. Three men came to him bringing along very bad news—Job’s house was gone, his cattle destroyed, his wealth evaporated, his children dead. EVERYTHING, within one single day, was taken away from Job. He went from high to low, top to bottom, rich to broke in one day.
Now, for most of us, that would be a breaking point. To hear we had lost everything, that our children were dead, and on top of that, that we were deathly sick, there’s not much more a normal person could take. We would be disappointed, depressed, and distressed at such sad and unfortunate news. Yet, this is what Job had to go through.
The Bible, however, says nothing at all of Job being angry at God or whining and complaining about his new-found situation. Instead, Job asked his wife—after she told him to “curse God and die”—”Shall we accept good from God and not also accept bad?” What a mindset to have at such a tragic time. These words from Job’s mouth after all the hell he was going through, speaks to us and lets us know that Job had an inner peace that everything that was happening was for his good. Job further stated, “the Lord gave and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
At these two times, with these two statements, Job portrays a state of tranquility in the midst of unimaginable tragedy. Even with his present condition, he was not worried. He was down physically and materially, but his mind and soul was in a much higher place. Our circumstances should never have any bearing upon our peace of mind. Tough times do not determine our peace or lack thereof. Our peace determines how we deal with the tough times that we will inevitably face. Outside of the power of a sovereign God, there is no explanation as to how people can have true peace in the middle of very difficult times. God extends His peace to all who genuinely want it.
Not only did Job express peace in the midst of his raging life storm, he also expressed gratitude. “The Lord gave and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” In Job’s situation, he could have chosen to forget about all his past fortunes and the many good things God had given to him and done for him. But he didn’t do that. He didn’t immediately take out a charge against God and hurl insults and threats at God for allowing this situation in his life. No, he chose instead to express gratitude, to thank God for all that He had done for him and even for his present sad predicament.
You see, Job’s situation did not determine his gratitude or his peace, instead, his peace and gratitude dictated how he responded to his situation. He had a grateful heart in the good times and now we can clearly see that he had a grateful heart in the bad times as well.
Peace is something that cannot be bought or taught. It cannot be borrowed or given by people; and when we have true peace, it certainly cannot be taken away. When we choose to be grateful for everything, we welcome peace into our lives. Peace forms a firm foundation for living. Real peace gives us a reason not to worry about anything, not to want for anything, and helps us to be able to deal with everything that comes our way. Gratitude is peace because when we are truly grateful for anything and everything, we can sing “it is well, it is well with my soul.”
Daniella Whyte is the vice president of GLM Omnimedia Group, LLC. She is an author, blogger, and podcaster. She holds a B.S. in Psychology (minor in Counseling), a B.S. in Religion, a Master’s Degree in Human Services Counseling – Executive Leadership, and a Master’s Degree in Developmental Psychology from Liberty University.