Is there a way to live so that we don’t allow circumstances, situations or storms in life to lead us to lose our peace? We all have moments in life that are aggravating, opportunities to worry or be upset, and disappointments to face. Life happens.
God never promised that life would be without challenges or that everything would always work out perfectly. The storms of life come to every person; however, God has promised that we can experience peace in the middle of a storm. Just because we’re in a stressful situation doesn’t mean we have to let that stress steal our peace. You can be in a storm without letting the storm get into you.
Think about a boat that is surrounded by water on all sides. A storm unexpectedly approaches out of nowhere. As long as it doesn’t start to take in water, that boat will float. The principle is the same in our lives. We can go through a storm but as long as we don’t allow what’s coming against us to get inside of us, we will stay in peace.
The scriptures show us how we can practice living in peace by loving others the way Christ loved us. The Apostle Paul writes, “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:12-15, New Living Translation). He gives us two steps to staying in peace.
First, we need to decide in advance to live in love. We cannot wait until we’re in the middle of a situation to decide how we will respond. We must choose in advance what kind of person we will be, just as we choose what kind of clothes we will wear. If you work in construction and you want to be prepared, you would most likely put on work boots, not flip-flops.
In the same way, we need to be relationally prepared for each day. Paul reminds us to be prepared with kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We may not need these every day, but we can prepare, just in case. We can choose ahead of time that we will forgive others just as Christ forgave us rather than wait until someone offends us to decide.
To be clear, forgiveness does not mean to forget or to look the other way, and it certainly doesn’t mean to remain in a situation that is causing harm. Forgiveness allows us to release the offense to God to handle so we don’t allow a person or a situation to steal our peace.
Secondly, we must respond in the moment to walk in love. It’s one thing to make a decision in advance to live in love, but it’s even more important to follow through in the moment.
The reality is that this decision is tested most by the people we live with in our homes. Have you ever had the experience where the people closest to you were the ones who doubted you the most? It’s true that if our faith doesn’t work at home, it doesn’t work. Let’s start by putting into practice the words that Jesus gave us. He said, “I am giving you a new commandment: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:34-35).
Jesus’ love for us, not his authority over us, is what demonstrates how we can love one another.
Jesus showed us the way of love and the Apostle Paul showed us the result of walking in love — peace. We may be looking to the heavens for peace to rain down, but it’s clear that this peace rests within us. When we follow God’s instructions, we will experience the gift of peace.
Matt Mylin is a pastor at Worship Center, a Lancaster church. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.