When rocket fire increased in 2014, Israelis in the south of the country had their lives upended. The government banned gatherings of 300-plus people near the Gaza Strip, summer camps and kindergartens shut down, school exams were postponed, and a neonatal ward transferred all infants to a protected area, Ynet News reported.
Such cautionary measures only added to a persistent worry of terror attacks.
A 15-year-old Israeli girl described what it was like to live in constant fear in an essay published by ABC News: ‚ÄúShortly before I sat down to write this article, I found out there was another terrorist attack in Israel. This time, it was in a club‚Ä¶There are 16 casualties already, in a few minutes there will probably be even more.‚ÄĚ
She described how two of her friends had previously died in a terror bombing and that ‚Äúriding a bus or going shopping have become life or death situations.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúAs an Israeli who spends her life in fear, I usually feel very alone. I don‚Äôt think people around the world can understand what it is like living from one news flash to another, not knowing what will happen the very next second.‚ÄĚ
Ironically, Israelis live in fear despite their capital being Jerusalem, which means City of Peace.
Yet the Bible declares that Christ will soon bring true peace to this contentious area‚ÄĒthen the entire world. We as the saints will rule with Him (Dan. 7:27). Undoubtedly, however, this has not yet occurred.
We do not have to live in a potential war zone, however, to have anxious thoughts. Anxiousness‚ÄĒwhich is characterized by inner turmoil, overwhelming unease, being distraught with worry, and vexed by uncertainty‚ÄĒcan crop up any day.
This is especially true when various trials affect us. It could be a criticizing boss who pressures you to break God‚Äôs command to observe the Sabbath or a relative causing strife because he does not agree with your beliefs. What about escalating grocery bills? Car troubles? Marital disagreements? Such concerns can leave us feeling restless, unsettled and unable to find peace.
This need not be the case. Unlike modern physical Jerusalem, Christ promised that Christians who are in the true Church‚ÄĒalso known as spiritual Jerusalem (Gal. 4:26)‚ÄĒcan have peace now.
When speaking with His disciples, Jesus stated: ‚ÄúPeace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid‚ÄĚ (John 14:27).
God‚Äôs people are supposed to have peace even when faced with trials and other negative situations. They need not be distracted at work with restless thoughts of marital troubles‚ÄĒnor need they be distraught by what food they will put on the table when times are economically tight.
To live each day peacefully, we must learn to employ an important principle found in Colossians 3:15, which states: ‚ÄúLet the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you are called in one body; and be you thankful.‚ÄĚ
Put plainly, God has given His people free access to peace‚ÄĒHis peace‚ÄĒbut we must let it rule.
For anyone who has suffered anxious thoughts before, this can seem easier said than done! There is much more to the process of stamping out restless uncertainty than meets the eye.
Getting Out of the Way
The biggest roadblock to allowing God‚Äôs peace to rule our minds is that self-will gets in the way. Humanly, it is against our nature to relinquish control and let someone or something else govern our lives. Yet how well we apply Colossians 3:15 now is a key to our ultimate future: rulership with Jesus Christ.
Because of this, it has often been stated, ‚ÄúGod will not give such authority to those who will not be ruled now.‚ÄĚ It should come as no surprise that to develop lasting peace, we must choose to let God be in charge. To be truly peaceful, His peace must be allowed to rule!
There are actions we can take to do this and remove our own wrong thoughts and desires from the equation. With diligence, these will allow the peace of God to govern our minds.
Live the Law: Most times, our problems and worries stem from being out of step with God‚Äôs Law‚ÄĒHis commands, statutes, precepts or judgments.
Conversely, the psalmist recorded, ‚ÄúGreat peace have they which love Your law: and nothing shall offend them‚ÄĚ (Psa. 119:165). In other words, those who live and breathe God‚Äôs Law will never stumble.
To truly love the Commandments, we must understand them well. This involves time and effort. Review certain scriptures so they become committed to memory. Once they are a permanent mainstay in your mind, these passages can quickly be recalled when peace is threatened and can be used to restore rule.
Cast Cares: Anxiety also comes from not giving our problems to God. I Peter 5:7 commands each individual to cast ‚Äúall your care upon Him; for He cares for you.‚ÄĚ Other reliable Bible versions render the word ‚Äúcare‚ÄĚ as anxiety or worries.
We must daily turn our cares, anxieties and worries over to God in prayers. Make a habit of doing this every morning and at any time during the day when worry starts to rear its head (Rom. 12:12). Keep in mind that those whose minds buzz with troubles and uncertainty often are not obeying this command to the fullest.
King David was diligent in casting his cares on God. Many of his Psalms are detailed, heartfelt prayers that clearly express his troubles to Him. In Psalm 55, he tells God that his ‚Äúheart is sore pained,‚ÄĚ that ‚Äúthe terrors of death are fallen upon‚ÄĚ him, and ‚Äúfearfulness and trembling are come upon‚ÄĚ him.
But later in the Psalm, David states, ‚ÄúCast your burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain you: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved‚ÄĚ (vs. 22).
Many of the Psalms are similar and show how we should go to God in prayer. We can employ these same methods to help ensure lasting peace in our lives.
Organize Life: We often bring trials and stresses upon ourselves. In other words, our bad habits and decisions hinder us from being at peace. Disorganization and chaos bring confusion, and these wrong actions must be rooted out of our lives. This allows us to be more like God who ‚Äúis not the author of confusion, but of peace‚ÄĚ (I Cor. 14:33).
If anxiety stems from always being late to appointments and work, reassess your routines. A cluttered house can cause you to fall behind and hinder your ability to complete responsibilities. Additionally, poor financial budgeting can cause undue worry.
Human nature will allow problems to linger for months or even years if left unresolved. Strive to tackle them‚ÄĒmake a plan and stick to it!‚ÄĒand bring decency and order to your life. Seek help from the Church‚Äôs literature, counsel with your minister, and ask for support from friends and family to eradicate wrong habits. In doing so, you will limit unnecessary, self-inflicted worry.
Living the Law, casting our cares, and organizing our lives merely gets us out of the way so that God‚Äôs peace can rule. We must also understand how it governs our minds so we can further remove anxieties and fearful thinking.
How God‚Äôs Peace Rules
The Greek word for ‚Äúrule‚ÄĚ in Colossians 3:15 simply means to govern or arbitrate (to judge). Thayer‚Äôs Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament adds the word ‚Äúumpire‚ÄĚ to the definition.
In the American sport of baseball, the umpire is the referee completely in charge of administering the rules of play. Every player voluntarily gives authority to the umpire before the game can begin and understands that he makes the final call. This is done to keep peace while playing.
Players occasionally forget their roles. Feeling as though they ‚Äúsaw the play from a better angle,‚ÄĚ they sometimes challenge the ruling authority and thereby disrupt the game.
When this occurs, events always take a turn for the worse. Everything from arguing, yelling and animated tantrums occur and the peaceful pastime turns into a fruitless battle of wills.
Similarly, God has rules‚ÄĒHis Law. He wants His peace‚ÄĒwhich comes from the Holy Spirit‚ÄĒto be our umpire.
If we break any of those rules, however, we will not hear a loud voice shouting, ‚ÄúFoul ball!‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúYou‚Äôre out!‚ÄĚ God‚Äôs Spirit works differently.
If there is a problem in your life, you will feel the ‚Äústill small voice‚ÄĚ (I Kings 19:12) of the Holy Spirit telling you that you are out of step with God‚Äôs Law. In such situations, this ‚Äúvoice‚ÄĚ often comes in the form of you being uncomfortable about a situation or feeling as though something is ‚Äúoff‚ÄĚ in your life. Left alone, these thoughts can result in anxiousness, loss of sleep, stress, a racing mind, etc.
Often you will know what the problem or difficult decision is in your life. It could be uncertainty over whether you should take a job offer or if you should buy a new car. In such situations, it is easy to become so caught up in worrisome thoughts that we can forget to cast our cares on God.
Whether or not you know what the problem is, the solution is always the same. Give your cares to God by practicing Romans 12:12 and being ‚Äúinstant in prayer.‚ÄĚ Ask Him to help you see His will. This can be a short prayer if you are not at home. You can always make a longer, detailed supplication later.
When we are led to see where our thoughts or actions are not according to God‚Äôs will, we can go to Him in confidence to ask for forgiveness and help.
Employ the Tools of Growth
Sometimes a quick prayer is all it takes to put your mind at ease. If a worry persists, however, you will need to take further action.
Battling against anything, especially anxiety, requires effort. The more severe a trial or problem, the greater level of persistence and endurance is required. Be willing to set time aside to employ all the tools of growth God has given. The goal is for Christians to become more aligned with God‚Äôs perfect will.
Corrective Bible study must accompany heartfelt prayer. By communing with God in this systematic way, we become more settled and gain confidence in His willingness to guide our lives. Combining prayer and study will also help cut through obstacles clouding our judgment so that we can see problems clearly (Heb. 4:12). The result is more peace of mind.
It is helpful to review Bible topics related to a specific problem. For example, if you are having an interpersonal issue, you could review Matthew 18:15-17. If it is marital troubles, turn to Ephesians 5 and make sure you are fulfilling your role in the marriage. If your budget is tight and you cannot afford clothing or food, go to Matthew 6. The same chapter can be reviewed if you are coveting an item that is outside your means.
Another often-overlooked step is reviewing Church literature on whatever problem you are having. Refreshing yourself on God‚Äôs truths is usually all it takes to find a solution to the problem or gain peace about a particular situation.
In addition to using Church literature, it is beneficial to read all of the Bible verses that include the word ‚Äúpeace.‚ÄĚ Not surprisingly, the Bible is a book about peace. In fact, the term is found 429 times in 400 verses!
Just knowing God is focused on this subject is in its own way settling. Principles found throughout the Bible clearly show that He can provide a solution for any problem we encounter. Why not let Him take the lead?
Yet drastic times call for drastic measures. When severe trials strike, we must draw close to God‚ÄĒand quickly! In such instances, fasting‚ÄĒgoing for a period of time (usually 24 hours) without food and water‚ÄĒis an effective way to do this.
Christians understand that one‚Äôs spiritual focus begins to sharpen when we remove physical distractions. Going without the basics of everyday life attunes our minds to the only Being with any staying power‚ÄĒGod!
Fasting also binds Satan. This inhibits him from broadcasting attitudes of disquiet and doubt. James 4:7-10 explains this process: ‚ÄúSubmit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded. Be afflicted [fast], and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.‚ÄĚ
In such a case, Satan has no choice but to flee from you. He cannot affect you when you are close to God. This voluntary act of humility also comes with the promise of abundant peace (Psa. 37:11).
By lowering ourselves in this unique way, we show God that we earnestly desire His help to solve our problems. This gives His Spirit more room to clear our minds of negative or anxious thoughts.
Issues can often be worked out by following the above approach. If a problem persists or is urgent, however, it is also prudent to seek the counsel of a minister.
Let It Keep You
In Philippians 4, the apostle Paul summarized the astounding benefits of God‚Äôs peace. Verse 6 begins with a command: ‚ÄúBe careful for nothing‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒthe Greek means give no anxious thought to anything‚ÄĒ‚Äúbut in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.‚ÄĚ
When you focus on your many blessings and are thankful for them, you will naturally be less anxious about uncertainties in your life.
The next verse shows that the results will be obvious: ‚ÄúAnd the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus‚ÄĚ (vs. 7).
The phrase ‚Äúshall keep‚ÄĚ is defined by Strong‚Äôs Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible as ‚Äúto be a watcher in advance‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúto mount guard as a sentinel.‚ÄĚ It can also mean to figuratively ‚Äúhem in‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúprotect.‚ÄĚ
Put simply, God‚Äôs peace prevents hostile invasion. His Holy Spirit acts as a sort of early detection system against irrational thoughts and attitudes. Trust the still small voice of God‚Äôs Spirit. This ‚Äúsentinel‚ÄĚ will help you get out in front of your natural thoughts to protect against a potential onslaught!
Paul added another layer of defense that can help eradicate restless thinking. Verses 8-9 state: ‚ÄúFinally, 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.‚ÄĚ
Make sure that what you put into your mind is worthwhile. Realize that Satan, as ‚Äúthe prince of the power of the air‚ÄĚ (Eph. 2:2), wants to fill your mind with lies, make you feel as if you have been treated unjustly, and inject you with unbelief. The people with whom you spend your time, what movies and music you choose, and the websites you visit all factor into this.
Paul continued in Philippians 4 with another command: ‚ÄúThose things, which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you‚ÄĚ (vs. 9).
Said another way, you must wholeheartedly live God‚Äôs Way to have true peace. The longer you are in the Church, the more deeply you will understand the commands of the Bible. Yet you must do them (Psa. 111:10).
The awesome result is that you will have the ‚Äúpeace of God, which passes all understanding‚ÄĚ (Phil. 4:7).
With each trial and bout of anxiety you overcome, you will grow stronger. John 15:2 explains that God prunes ‚Äúevery branch that bears fruit‚ÄĚ so that ‚Äúit may bring forth more fruit.‚ÄĚ This includes peace, which is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22).
The best part is that this fruit can be shared! Just as you might choose to give homegrown peaches to your friends and neighbors, so too can you share the spiritual fruit you are developing with those around you.
Most of this occurs through your example. When you have more peace in your life and have grace under fire, your presence will deescalate tense situations. You will better be able to give sound advice to others on how to overcome anxiety and worry.
No matter if we are dealing with our families, fellow brethren in God‚Äôs Church, or those in the world, we can bring peace, which promotes unity (Eph. 4:3). By striving for a continual peaceful state, it will follow us in every situation we encounter. And when we do so, most interpersonal problems cease to exist.
Have you ever considered that if you work hard to live an anxiety-free life, you can actually affect the size of local congregations? When Church members actively seek peace in their own lives, God can call more people to a peaceful environment where they can grow (I Cor. 7:15), which ultimately leads to Church growth.
Yet the Church benefits in other ways also. When your mind is free from uncertainty and doubt, your prayers focus more on others and God‚Äôs Work. The entire First Commission, preaching the ‚Äúgospel of peace‚ÄĚ (Rom. 10:15; Eph. 6:15) to the whole world as a witness, will be much more powerful and efficient if the entire Church works at living peacefully together. The more we do so, the more we show God that He can use us in the administration of peace to the entire world.
Soon, the city of Jerusalem will live up to the meaning of its name. At the Return of Jesus Christ, ‚Äúthe increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this‚ÄĚ (Isa. 9:7).
Ruling alongside Christ in that kingdom is contingent on what we do now. This brings further meaning and renewed importance to the Romans 12:18 command to ‚Äúlive peaceably with all men‚ÄĚ! We must continue employing the tools of growth that God has given to us through His Spirit.
Decide to let the peace of God rule your thoughts and keep your mind. Strive to minimize letting everyday stresses affect your state of mind. Doing so will directly help the Church and the Work.
Sleep easy every night, be different from those in the world around you, and allow God‚Äôs peace to rule you now so that you can soon govern with Jesus Christ‚ÄĒthe Prince of Peace!