Pursuing Peace

My mother recently wanted to recount a tale of terror to me about something tragic that happened to a child.  I know her intention was teach me a lesson through a cautionary tale, but in reality I just didn’t have the ability to hear a scary story involving young people.  Often, my Mom misinterprets my attitude and believes I am too cavalier.  In reality, I can be crippled by fear.

I heard myself saying, “Mom, if you think my lack of interest is a result of some apathy I have towards my children, or an inability to worry, it’s quite the opposite. There are days when I worry about my children every moment that they are apart from me.  I would like to think that I get a break when they are sleeping, but it’s not true, I can imagine terrible things that could happen in their sleep.”

After I heard those words come out of my mouth, I thought to myself.  My goodness, self, that is no way to exist!

My passionate plea to my Mother worked. She didn’t tell me a new, awful story to fuel the flames of my anxiety, but it did remind me of the heartache that I experience through fear, worry and anxiety. I was also reminded of one of my favorite verses that has sustained me when my mind fails me.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you (Isaiah 26:3).”

So many times I have rewritten this verse to look something like this: ”She lives in perfect chaos because she worries too much (my mind 1:01).” 

When I read the words, “perfect peace,” at times it sounds impossible to me and so believing that it exists is an act of faith. I have never been one to pick and choose God’s promises; so, if God says perfect peace is possible, it must be so!

The truth is, I know it’s possible. When my Dad was dying in the hospital, we were given an actual day that he would die. We knew that we would visit the hospital and remove the medical equipment sustaining his life and he would pass on to glory.  In the days leading up to this moment I felt sick. I remember distinctly believing that it was not something I could handle. I pleaded with God for comfort and peace, and in the morning that we drove to the hospital, I experienced it. It was a unique feeling, knowing that it wasn’t something I conjured up on my own, I was fully aware of my frailty. People often describe feelings as waves, and I felt like I was riding a wave of peace.

The sick feeling was gone. I just felt peace. As Isaiah charges us to do, I trusted God with my life and the life of my Dad. I trusted God that he could bring peace into my life. I chose to fix my mind on the truths I knew about God from scripture. Mostly, I remember feeling out of control, in the best way possible. I believe God’s Holy Spirit had taken over and was protecting me from myself.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7).”

This passage is yet another promise of God’s peace. This verse kindly gives us a few more details. Worry, anxiety and fear are combated with prayer, taking requests to God and approaching life with an attitude of thankfulness. The result of this is peace. Lastly, and perhaps the most important element for me, is that peace protects my heart and mind.

Often, it doesn’t take much to derail my feeble mind, one traumatic story might easily do it. My mind will wander away from the Lord and my trust will transform into fear. My joy usually follows close behind and my attitude becomes restless and irritated as I begin to go into survival mode to protect myself from the things I fear…. Need I continue to digress?

What then?

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you (Isaiah 26:3).”

I come full circle. My mind comes back to Christ. Through a habit of prayer, petition and thankfulness I lean into Jesus. I rely on the perfect peace that he promises to provide because I trust in him.

Catharine Griffin was born and raised in Covington, Georgia. She earned an M.A. in Biblical Counseling from Dallas Theological Seminary in 2012. She enjoys mentoring and discipling college women and is currently doing so at East Texas Baptist University. She is passionate about hearing people's stories and helping people see their potential in Christ and serves this calling out as a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate. She has also been coordinating ministry to women for several years in various churches and longs to equip women to serve the church with biblically sound teaching. She is a mother to three boys, wife to a Baptist Student Minister, and enjoys teaching, writing, cooking and all things outside.

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