Yesterday our family celebrated Mother’s Day. We had a wonderful time together as we reminded our mothers how special they were to us and it was awesome to hear our kids remind us of the same. As I’ve shared before, I’ve been blessed by God with both a mother and a mother-in-law who are incredible people; they both love and trust God and through their words and actions I’m inspired to know Jesus more deeply.
For my husband and for me, Mother’s Day is a positive and meaningful time with our family but I’m fully aware that for some, this day is one of pain and disappointment only. For those who long to have children but their dreams of motherhood hold only pain and emptiness, for those who were abused and unloved by their own mothers, and for those whose beloved mothers are now dead, celebrating Mother’s Day is a very difficult thing.
No matter which group you’re in, God understands and knows exactly how you’re feeling… and He truly cares. Whether you had something to celebrate yesterday or not, God sees into the deepest part of your heart and He longs to bring you His peace. Why is it that all true believers in Christ have peace with God but yet can experience so little of His presence and peace in the details of their daily lives? How can that be possible?
The Apostle Paul informed us in Romans 5:1 that because we’ve been justified by faith in the death of Christ, we have peace with God through Him. And in Ephesians 2:14 we’re told that Jesus Himself is our peace because His death took away the wall of our own sins that separated us from the love of God; reconciling us to God, thus establishing true peace between us. This kind of peace forms the foundation for our relationship with God and is unchangeable, regardless of our feelings on any given day. It gives us the concrete assurance of God’s love for us now, and forever in Heaven.
But what about the peace, or lack of it, that we can experience as we deal with the circumstances of our daily lives? Jesus, just a few days before His death, comforted His followers with these words from John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, or let it be afraid.” And Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
So, what happens when our hearts are troubled and we are afraid? What happens when we pray and God doesn’t seem to answer, or He answers us in a way we don’t want? Where’s this promised peace then? Jesus ‘s death has given us as sinners, peace with a holy God. His resurrected life has given us a glorious future and assurance that everything that happens to us now comes through the hands of a loving, sovereign God. Resting in this fact as we trust the good heart of God gives us peace in our hearts as we deal with the difficult people and painful circumstances of our lives.
The problem is: too many of us don’t trust God when pain comes, or when His promises seem to us to be lies. We complain that we don’t experience God like others seem to and we secretly wonder if God has His pet favorites.
But the honest reason we don’t experience God more deeply is that we rarely allow ourselves to remain in a situation where He is everything to us. We live our lives to be comfortable and to keep things manageable. When God hands us a situation we can’t control, we either deny it, we take steps to mitigate it, we dissolve in self-pity over it, or we protect ourselves with anger because of it. None of these responses allow God to be strong for us. None of these responses allow us, no matter what our feelings are, to experience the peace that comes only from realizing our complete helplessness and clinging tightly to God and His promises.
I love what Charles Spurgeon once wrote. He said, “Most Christians are only up to their ankles in the river of life; very few find life a river to swim in, the bottom of which they cannot touch. “ Can you relate? Are you living your life in ways designed to keep things manageable for you? Are you hanging on to a semblance of control so that you won’t have to risk vulnerability and possible devastation at the hands of a God you honestly don’t trust and definitely can’t control?
God waits for all of us to let go of our tightly held illusion of control. He waits for us to admit that we need Him like we need our next breath of air. God is calling to you and to me, calling us away from our safe predictability into His risky, frightening darkness.
If we take God up on his call and plunge into the deep waters the reward will be a rich fellowship with Him, precious glimpses of the reality of His presence that will be impossible to explain to those still wading in the shallows. God will give us His peace because he will give us Himself, unhindered by our own sinful machinations. But this peace we want won’t come to us cheaply, with little personal cost to ourselves. In the same way our peace with God cost Jesus His life, so also this daily experiential peace from God costs us our perceived right to have life the way we want it to be… it will cost us our life as well.
Oswald Chambers once wrote, “Thank God that He does give us difficult things to do! His salvation is a joyous thing, but it is also something that requires bravery, courage, and holiness. It tests us for all we are worth. Jesus is bringing ‘many sons to glory’ (Hebrews 2:10), and God will not shield us from the requirements of sonship. God’s grace produces men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, not pampered, spoiled weaklings. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to live the worthy and excellent life of a disciple of Jesus in the realities of life.”
So, like you, today I need to loosen my grip. I need to once again let go of those things that I’ve been striving so hard to control, and I need to choose to submit to God’s leadership over me. I need to see myself as Paul did, as Gods bond servant, and respond with respectful obedience… no matter what’s happening in my life! This is the hefty price tag of the peace Jesus spoke of giving to us. It will come to us no other way!