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Peace. (Particularly When Life Makes No Sense)

“‘I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.’” – John 14:25-27 

That’s my parting gift to you. Peace.”

If you’re unfamiliar to the rest of the story of Jesus and the disciples, things get kinda hard…Persecution follows the disciples after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Becoming a martyr for your beliefs isn’t considered smooth sailing…Least of all “peaceful”. And yet, Jesus said it…But how??? And we feel defeated when someone attacks our beliefs on Twitter…

Why would Jesus tell these guys that he’s giving them the gift of peace when their worlds were going to become incredibly painful? Was he just messing with them?

The longer I breathe in the joy and pain of life, the more I am finding that peace was never dependent upon my emotions or circumstances. Simply put, peace is the gentle reminder from God that we always have hope, that we are loved in our brokenness, and that the darkness will lose to the light in the end.

For much of my life, I have wrestled with incredible anxiety, fear, and depression, leaving me wondering if I was damned or redeemed. If I was a child of God, why would my brain hurt so much? Why would my heart break? Where was the peace I thought I should have if I was truly a son of God?

I still remember one night in Beverly Hills, driving home to Pasadena…My anxiety had become so high that I was overwhelmed. I found a neighborhood with street parking, parked the car, and began sobbing as I prayed for peace. I grabbed my Bible, looked for words of encouragement, and felt incredibly lost as to what to do next. Where was the peace of God that He promised? Was I fooling myself to believe that He was with me?

It’s taken me almost a decade to begin embracing this mysterious peace that Jesus offers. Do I still struggle with anxiety? Yes. Have there been days where I felt depressed and couldn’t tell you why? Yes. Do I know that I am loved by my Daddy? Incredibly, my answer is “yes”.

As my faith has matured and as I have drifted further away from religiosity towards a life of grace, I can confidently say that I feel more peace now than I ever have. Why? I may be wrong, but I genuinely believe that it’s because I trust that the grace of Jesus is greater than all my screwed up failures. I believe God will hold me, even when I fail Him…Because I believe He’s a good Father who adores me…I guess that’s where I find peace, even when my brain is in a whirlwind of chaos.

So where was peace that night in Beverly Hills? I guess it wasn’t in immediate deliverance from my momentary fears, but rather, in the acceptance of Jesus even in the middle of the storm.

Peace, even in the midst of chaos. Peace, even in the middle of the hurricane.

“Late that day he said to them, ‘Let’s go across to the other side.’ They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, ‘Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?’

Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, ‘Quiet! Settle down!’ The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: ‘Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?’

They were in absolute awe, staggered. ‘Who is this, anyway?’ they asked. ‘Wind and sea at his beck and call!’” – Mark 4:35-41 

“…is it nothing to you that we’re going down?” I’ve asked this question for most of my life. In the midst of pain, suffering, anxiety, and heartache, do we not all secretly ask this question when God’s peace appears absent?

Jesus delivered the disciples from the storm in this story, but he did not deliver them from all the trials they would endure in life. Here’s what I think Jesus was teaching them:

‘“Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?”

I believe this was about faith. Peace requires faith. Receiving the Daddy’s love requires faith. Accepting hope in the midst of chaos requires faith.

We are creatures who desperately lack faith. No wonder peace is often so absent…

What if we began seeing the world through different eyes – the eyes of faith? What if we began trusting, deep down in our being, that God’s grace is beyond our temporary failures and blunders? What if we realized that peace is rarely dependent upon circumstances and always dependent on the acceptance of Jesus?

We will all encounter storms in this life, but what will we do with the invitation to trust Jesus through the darkest days? His love is better than life…

May we all find peace in the arms of our Daddy, embraced by arms of grace.