These two phrases keep echoing through my mind:
“The Peace which surpasses all understanding . . .”
“The joy of Your salvation . . .”
They are both phrases from Scripture.
The first is from Philippians 4:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindnessshould be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (verses 4-7)
And the second is from Psalm 51:
Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. (verses 11-12)
Why these phrases? Because all this time through all this suffering, this is the one thing I could never quite get a handle on. I knew, I heard, that I should have joy and peace through any circumstance. But I just could never get there.
It’s the letting go. That’s it, that’s the whole answer. Not unlike the small sufferings of losing the keys or these bigger hits we take in life, it’s accepting that things are not going to turn out the way WE want.
So I asked over and over again, why don’t I have peace? Father Larry says we don’t have peace if we are sin or if we are not following God’s will. I searched and prayed deeply over that and really didnt’ feel I fit into either of those categories. So where was my peace?
Slowly, I began to realize that I didn’t have peace because I wasn ‘t accepting how things were and how things were going to be. I was still waiting on people and circumstances to change. I was simply hoping in–and for–the wrong things. Not that anything I wanted was bad, but that holding on, that waiting for things to change, was keeping me from being at peace with the circumstances as they were and how they may stay for a long, long time. My hope was in the wrong thing. So I stopped. I stopped hoping for things, people, circumstances to change. And I put my hope in God. I accepted that what that meant was that no matter what I’ll be okay. No matter what, God will take care of me, He will love me. Situations aren’t perfect–indeed, they are still painful even. But My hope needs to be in Him!
And be satisfied. I have what I need though it’s not my perfect solution.
That is how you have peace when life is in chaos.
Does it mean I don’t keep praying for God’s will, for conversion, for people? No, of course not. It also doesn’t mean that I’m above pain. There is pain. There is sadness. But the sadness doesn’t have to rule me. See when I was holding on so tight, as long as things weren’t the way I thought they should be, I felt ruled by the sadness–not at peace.
When I keep my eyes on God and trust Him to make me okay, not necessarily the circumstances, then I begin to have that peace. I let him fill up what is lacking. I let Him be to me what the circumstances can’t.
The same is true of joy. When my joy is determined by the circumstances of life, whether its the bigger picture or just whether I’m having a good or bad day, then I’m not going to have that permanent joy. But when I put the joy in my salvation, in the gifts that God has freely given, then there is always joy! Because that never ends, never changes.
Again, that’s my old problem of not focusing on Heaven but getting too caught up in the day to day of this life.
So finally, finally after almost two years, I’m starting to understand where peace and joy really come from. Praise God for the lessons learned from suffering!
Still, its a process. I understand this a little better now, but I still get bogged down, especially if I’m not keeping my eyes on God and giving Him the time He deserves, and that I need to stay focused.
But I’m getting there. And it’s nice to get a taste of that joy and peace.