We were all hoping for a better year in 2021, right?
A year without the tensions and turmoil of 2020.
A return to at least a little bit of normalcy and less worry, frustration, and fear.
And…..the first week of 2021 erupted like an angry volcano. Although it’s not surprising that our problems followed us into this year, it IS disappointing.
In the midst of the turmoil we’re facing, it is possible to have peace. Our peace is not dependent upon the absence of problems, but upon the presence of Jesus. God’s Word promises peace in the storms, but did you know that you play a vital role in experiencing that peace?
Just as it’s possible for me to starve when my kitchen is stocked with food if I don’t partake of that food, so I can lack the peace I need even when it is within my grasp.
God’s Word encourages us to seek and pursue peace.
“Depart from evil, and do good: seek peace, and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:14) As this verse points out, we have an active role in experiencing peace.
We simply cannot expect to have the peace of God in our lives if we do nothing to pursue that peace. With that in mind, let’s look at five practical ways we can seek peace in our lives today, this week, and throughout the rest of this year—no matter what the year brings.
One: Listen to the words of Jesus.
In Mark 6, we read the account of Jesus walking upon the water during a storm. His disciples cried out in fear when they saw Him, believing Him to be a fearful spirit. Immediately, Jesus calmed them with these words, “Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.” (Mark 6:50)
To experience peace in our lives, we must literally flood our hearts and minds with the words of Jesus. Make sure that nothing keeps you from your daily quiet time with the Lord, and meditate upon His words throughout the day.
Write His words on sticky notes and post them in your home and work space. Download a Scripture app for your phone and instead of checking social media when you have a free minute, read your verse of the day. You can even listen to an audio Bible while driving or doing chores around your home. In this day of technology, there are many ways to keep God’s Word close at hand.
The more you saturate your life with the words of Jesus, the more peace you will experience.
Two: Limit your intake of distressing news.
I may step on a few toes, but please hear my heart in this matter. Yes, we should be informed of current events. Yes, we should know what’s going on so we can pray effectively.
But a steady, hour-to-hour diet of constant news is not good for anyone. I had to chuckle a few months ago as I was talking to a pastor about this very thing. In reference to constantly keeping the TV blaring, he said, “I check the news for about five minutes a day, and I know just as much as people who sit in front of their TV all day.”
It’s true—most of the news is simply rehashing and discussing what’s already happened, often in a very negative way. (After all, bad news sells.) This constant stream of negativity into your life will produce worry, anxiety, and distress.
On the other hand, purposefully dwelling on good things will help us think positively. Philippians 4:8 says it like this, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Three: Pray with your eyes on Almighty God, not the problems.
It is well and good to pray through the problems we are facing—on a national level, as well as a personal level—but when we allow ourselves to focus on the problem instead of our all-sufficient, all-powerful, in-control Heavenly Father, we can “pray ourselves out of faith.”
I think we’ve all been there. We started our prayer time with the earnest desire to bring our burdens and requests to the Lord. But somewhere between the “Dear Heavenly Father” and the “Amen” we got our eyes off Jesus and back on the gigantic mountain of a problem looming over us. We may have laid our burden at the feet of Jesus for a few moments in our prayer room, but we picked it up and carried it out with us when we left.
Remember just how mighty your God is. The God Who created spinning galaxies, towering mountains, foaming oceans, and millions upon millions of stars is not worried by the turmoil of this world. Focus on Him as you pray.
“Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.” (Psalm 147:5)
Four: Utilize God’s gift of music.
Music is a powerful and precious gift from God. The right music can be calming, encouraging, and uplifting.
God often gives me a particular song during difficult times of my life. In the aftermath of losing my marriage, one of my sons played the same song every night when he went to bed. The music drifted to my room where I lay, grieving and praying. To this day, Just Be Held brings to mind the comforting arms of Jesus and how He carried me through that time.
When you feel worry welling up within you and the peace of God seems to elude you, try listening to uplifting songs that speak to the power, glory, and goodness of God. The combination of beautiful melodies and encouraging lyrics will help lift your spirit and keep you in tune with God.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16)
Five: Try to get out into the beauty of God’s nature at least once a day.
When the world seems to be spinning out of control, taking a walk (even if only for a few minutes) helps refresh your spirit. The twittering of birds, the gentle breeze, and the bright sunshine are just a few of the gifts of nature God can use to calm your soul.
My son Kyle recently told me why he loves to go outside to pray. “Nature reminds me of how God is constant. Nothing the politicians or governments do can change the things of nature. They can’t change the way millions of stars shine, or the sun sets, or the moon rises. They can’t change the ocean tides or the seasons. It reminds me that God is in control, not the people in the world.”
When you are overwhelmed with the craziness taking place in our world, go outside and remind yourself Who is really in charge of this world.
Yes, this world will threaten to steal our peace in 2021, just as it has every year since the beginning of time. But there are steps we can take to pursue peace. Listen to the words of Jesus—saturate your life with them. Limit your intake of distressing news. Pray with your eyes on God, and allow God to use music and nature to calm you.
Be blessed, my friend! May the peace of Jesus surround you today and every day.
“The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
For information on my devotional book, Tales from Toddlers, click HERE.