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How We Can Live in Peace

By Jake Graybill

Often, from the second I wake up to the moment I fall asleep, my mind is racing. There is seldom a moment where I am not worrying. Whether it be about my desires, responsibilities, outward-perception, or fears, I find myself worrying more often than I would like to admit. If you’re anything like me, our worries are often endless, and often lead us to places of anxiety, isolation, or unhealthy methods of coping.

At the same time as being filled with worry, we as followers of Jesus recognize the peace he has ushered in. In the second week of advent, we remember and celebrate the “Prince of Peace,” (Isaiah 9:6), but we struggle to have internal peace ourselves. We do recognize that Jesus at his second “arrival” will bring with him the fullness of peace, but how should we as followers of Christ find and live in the peace he has for us now?

I know that many struggle with clinical anxiety and other related mental health struggles. In addition to the healing provided by counseling and clinical medication, we find a glimpse into how we can presently live in the peace of Christ in the words of Psalm 131:

1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
    my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
    too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
    like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child is my soul within me.
3 O Israel, hope in the Lord
    from this time forth and forevermore.

In the first verse of this psalm, David says to the Lord that his “heart is not lifted up” and “his eyes are not raised too high.” In other words, David’s heart is not proud, nor do his eyes desire much. In the first half of this verse I find conviction that all too often my heart and eyes are not like this. I think our struggle with worry often comes down to the fact that we are prideful and desire too much. We are often inwardly focused with desire to fulfill our “lifted up” hearts. We then tend to worry about all the things and methods in which we try to find satisfaction in, such as acceptance from others, physical pleasure, or money and power. Further, when we look deeper at our lives of worry, we find that often our strongest worries are things that we cannot control in the first place. This stands in contrast to David’s words in the second part of the first verse, “I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.” Here, we find the King of Israel, the person with the highest degree of self-autonomy, says that his mind is not focused on things outside of his control. Even though he has the ability to change more aspects of his life than pretty much anyone, he is not occupied with doing so. While we do have a certain degree of control over our lives, I find it interesting that we tend to overly worry about things that we have no power over in the first place.

Wouldn’t it be nice for the words of David here to hold true in our daily lives, for a day, or even an hour? To not worry about ourselves and things outside of our control? David goes on to give a picture of what this life free from worry looks like in the following verse. “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

David describes the result of a life of contentment free from worry like a weaned child. A child who, although no longer receives milk from their mother directly, has complete trust that they will be satisfied. This is the life in Christ I long for, and I think we all do. One that is free from pride and worry, but rather has complete trust in the Lord for all we need. In other words a soul that is indeed calm and quiet.

But how do we get there? How do we achieve this calm and quiet life, especially when our worries and selfish thoughts are ever present?

David concludes his psalm in this way, “O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.” In short, we set our minds on Jesus, and hope in him. We don’t have to worry about whether or not we will be satisfied, because Jesus will (John 6:35). We don’t have to worry about being accepted by others, because in Christ we are called daughters and sons of God (Romans 8:14-17). We don’t have to worry about controlling our lives, because our heavenly father sees us Matthew 6:25-34). Only when we put our hope in Jesus can we become a people who have calmed and quieted souls. A people who are no longer self-seeking for satisfaction or belonging. A people of peace.

Before arriving at Creekside, I worked with members of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) community. At the end of every AA meeting, members would gather together and recite aloud the serenity prayer together. I have found this prayer helpful in my daily walk as a reminder to not worry about what I can not control, but to grow in my hope in the Lord.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Creekside, we’re invited this advent season, and every day to live in the peace that Christ has brought with his arrival, and will bring to fulfillment one day. So let’s join together with David, and Israel before us, and “Hope in the Lord, from this time forth and forevermore.”