Answer to Anxiety
If I could give you one thing that would make your lives more rich and joyful, one gift to help you cope with the heartaches and problems in each of your different situations; do you know what that would be? It wouldn't be more money or health or youth or power or greater intelligence. If I could give you one single gift, that surpasses all of these, it would be to give you peace of mind.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
- Philippians 4:4-9
Money has a way of creating more worries, health is so fragile, youth is temporary and usually not appreciated by those who possess it, power corrupts, and great intelligence leads to pride, but peace of mind is precious at every season of life, every position in society and every level of ability.
The Definition of 'Peace of Mind'
We can touch money and count it, we can exercise power and enjoy the energy of youth, but peace of mind is a more difficult thing to describe or define:
- The Roman orator, Cicero, said that peace was freedom in tranquility, and the theologian, Augustine, described it as the final good of man.
- One old proverb defines peace as, "not the absence of conflict from life but the ability to cope (survive) with it."
- The ancient writers and the modern thinkers all search to define and analyze not only what peace of mind is but more importantly how to obtain it.
The Jews in the Old Testament period put such a high premium on this state that their main personal greeting was a word that signified this precious gift. The word "Shalom" meant health, prosperity and well-being, but especially peace; and was used when greeting or bidding farewell to someone.
For a small nation constantly threatened by other more powerful ones, peace and especially peace of mind was a precious commodity.
Because of their special calling, the Jewish nation came to understand the character and purpose of God through revelation, and through the prophets came to realize that peace of mind, that inexplicable, elusive state of quiet well-being that allowed a person to weather any storm and face any hardship, was something that came from God. You couldn't purchase it with money, you couldn't learn it from a book, you couldn't develop it through practice.
Peace of mind was God's peace, the peace that one experienced when one's heart and soul rested securely with God. Isaiah, the prophet, put it this way,
God will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in Him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord. - Isaiah 26:3
Peace of mind wasn't something that man offered to God in order to demonstrate his sincerity or holiness; peace of mind was something that God offered to man in exchange for man's knowledge of and trust in an all powerful and loving God.
Peace of Mind Vs. Satisfaction
We need to make a difference between peace of mind and satisfaction because it is easy to confuse the two.
1. Satisfaction is the feeling we experience when we accomplish tasks. We feel a sense of accomplishment or pleasure because a task is completed, we've reached an objective or fulfilled some need.
Many people stay busy going from one task to another in order to reinforce this feeling of satisfaction, and many times confuse it with peace of mind. This becomes evident when there is nothing to do, these busy people become unhappy. Satisfaction is the sense of well being we have when our needs are being met, whether they be physical, emotional, social, financial, or spiritual.
To experience satisfaction is great, it is the natural way to know when we have enough, but we must not confuse satisfaction and the pursuit of it with peace of mind, or else we will never be at rest.
2. Peace of mind is also a feeling. It is a feeling of balance. A sense of harmony in our lives between the physical and spiritual. It is a feeling of quiet assurance that despite what is happening on the outside of our lives, the inside of our minds and hearts are calm and at rest.
Peace of mind enables us to have freedom from the need to win all the time, or having to perform our "act" all the time, or feeling guilty or afraid all of the time. Peace of mind as a state of being is the prelude to joy within and meaningful relationships with others. Without peace of mind we are too busy winning, acting, or being afraid to have a meaningful relationship. And of course, you cannot have true courage without peace of mind.
In ancient times when they built castles, they would also build deep wells within the castle walls. The idea was that in times of war the attackers would often try to cut off their water supply coming in from a river or aqueduct in an effort to defeat the castle dwellers through thirst. The castles with deep wells within the garrison however were safe from this tactic, having an accessible water supply from within. Peace of mind is like that deep well that constantly nourishes the soul within even as a conflict rages on the outside.
When I was a kid, the Rolling Stones became famous singing a song entitled, "I can't get no satisfaction." It seems that the entire generation that followed them grew up singing that song and for the most part looking for satisfaction and not getting any because they didn't understand that what they needed was peace of mind, not satisfaction.
How to Obtain Peace of Mind
This brings us to the key issue: how do we obtain peace of mind? As much as I'd like to, I cannot give you peace of mind, but I can tell you who does, and how you can receive it.
1. Jesus Christ is the only one who can give you peace of mind. If peace of mind were a thing or a commodity, only Jesus would be able to have it and give it.
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. - John 14:27
We know Jesus has promised us this peace of mind but how did they, and consequently we, receive it? We have the answer to this question in verse 26. Jesus promised that He would send them the Holy Spirit who would bring them into the knowledge and remembrance of His words. I believe that it was this knowledge and understanding that would finally bring peace of mind, and in the same way, brings us peace of mind today.
It isn't the sound, composition, or repetition of the words themselves that bring peace (like some mantra), but rather what the words represent and teach.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden fear
Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes;
26 For the Lord will be your confidence
And will keep your foot from being caught.
- Proverbs 3:24-26
This refers to a person who knows God's will and word as well, and trusts the assurance that God will protect him. It doesn't say that the wicked won't come, maybe the wicked will come; just don't be afraid because God will be there to protect when it happens. This promise, when believed, brings peace!
28 Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. - Matthew 11: 28-30
God assures those who are troubled and wearied by life that if they come to Him, He will support them. This brings peace.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, - Romans 5:1
Paul summarizes in a few words the fact that by the death of Christ on the cross He has paid the moral debt for all of our sins; because of this, God now offers us forgiveness instead of condemnation and hell. When man now thinks of God, he no longer has to dread judgement because he knows in advance that he is OK with God because of Christ. This knowledge creates a peaceful heart and mind.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. - Romans 8:1
Another re-assurance that God will not condemn us at judgement is because we are "in Christ", meaning we are Christians. When we see our weak and sinful natures, the way we really are, these words/promises bring peace.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. - I John 1:9
When you've messed up for the thousandth time, don't these words bring reassurance? And reassurance that God continues to love and forgive and bless us despite our failures. This creates peace within that no one person or action can touch.
This passage and countless others tell us of God's absolute power, love, and willingness (eagerness) to forgive us, transform us, help us, supply our needs, and eventually resurrect us from the dead to an everlasting life. These are the things that create peace of mind:
- The knowledge that we are forgiven for our sins.
- The assurance that God knows and cares about our failures and heartaches, and sustains us nevertheless.
- The instruction that guides us in living good and productive and spirit-filled lives.
Money, power, or intelligence can get us many things, but they can never obtain peace of mind. Peace of mind is created from the knowledge, assurances, instructions, and promises that God gives, and all of these are contained in the Bible. The only way we can obtain peace of mind is when this knowledge and these promises become ours as we read and respond with faith and obedience to the word of God.
In other words you could say, "The peace of God comes into your heart when the God of peace is on your mind through His word."
1. What we all desperately need to be happy and fulfilled in this life is peace of mind. That state of being that sees us with a quiet assurance of heart. A situation where we are in harmony with God, ourselves, and others. An attitude whereby whatever is happening on the outside, good or bad, does not disturb the still water that is on the inside.
2. This peace of mind is something that only God can create and give (man cannot create or obtain it through his own efforts).
And God does create it through:
- the revelation of Himself
- the offer of forgiveness through Jesus Christ
- the promise of love and care
- the assurance of eternal life
And God does offer it through the recording of all these things in His word. All those who read and believe His word will have this peace that surpasses understanding that Paul spoke of in Philippians 4.
For some, this message simply confirms what they have known and experienced all their Christian lives. With each passing day in Christ the word continues to reassure and strengthen them creating a deeper and more secure peace of mind. I rejoice with you and praise God for the blessings that you enjoy because your hearts are at peace in Jesus.
There may be some, however, who are not a peace, whose hearts are constantly troubled, who would love to be at rest and enjoy the state of mind that I've described in this Mini Book. If you are one of these people I encourage you to take the following steps:
- The first step for you is to surrender your hearts to Jesus Christ and allow Him to forgive your sins so you can be at peace with God - this you can do by confessing His name (acknowledging that you believe that He is the son of God), repenting of your sins, and being baptized (immersed in water) today. (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38)
- The next step is to grow in the understanding of Christ's word, and do what it says so that God can create in you an everlasting peace that nothing, not even the threat of death, will disturb.
God bless you as you search and find the peace of God.