Anyone who has struggled with anxiety, fear or panic attacks knows that peace can be elusive. We search, we struggle, and weÂ desperatelyÂ grasp for whatever peace we can find. For some, temporary peace comes through worldly escapes like food, alcohol, medication and entertainment. For others, there’s no peace at all–just a sleepless, continual torment.
Deep inside each of us, though, is a craving and desire for true peace. We want our bodies and our minds to be at rest, but the battle within just seems to rage on. Where is that peace? How can we find it?
Let me start by sharing three ways we wrongly search for peace:
In the “try harder” solution, we carry the burden of finding peace. Results are our responsibility, the fruit of our effort. It’s pretty common in the American culture to expect results from trying harder. We find it in schools, in our jobs, in almost every area of our life. “Just try harder, and then you’ll succeed.”
Here’s the problem–it doesn’t bring true, complete healing. Sure, there are some areas of success that come through trying harder, but they are often superficial and short lived. Trying harder puts all of the burden and effort on you.
Trying harder also has the exact opposite effect. The more strength, effort and emotional energy you pour into trying harder, the more adrenaline you release and the more anxiety you create. It’s like blowing on a campfire trying to put it out. You would think that it would help, but you end up feeding the fire more oxygen, and then it burns hotter. The same is true with trying harder–it only feeds the anxiety.
Wait on God
If trying harder is at one end of the self-effort spectrum, then waiting on God is at the other. It’s the notion that we can do nothing on our own, so wait on God. Like the “try harder” solution, there are certain elements of truth in each of these solutions. Sure, there are times we need to engage our will and there are times we need to wait on God. What I’m referring to, however, is that passive “waiting” that does nothing to change.
Yes, there are times we need to wait on God, but it’s far more important that we press in to God, hear his voice and respond to him. Simply waiting on God and doing nothing will not bring lasting peace into our lives.
Another common response is more information. Over Â the past two decades, access to information has increased tremendously. There are massive amounts of books, teachings, seminars, workshops, how-to’s and litany of informational resources. Again, information is not bad. We are to grow in our understanding and knowledge, but information alone cannot transform us. Knowing the truth in our mind does not make it real in our heart.
Look at the Pharisees in Jesus’ time. They were a wealth of information and knowledge. They knew the scriptures inside and out. If information alone could bring healing, then these guys would have walked in complete freedom. But, they didn’t. Knowledge and information did not change their hearts.
So, what is the solution? Is there hope for those struggling to find peace?Â Yes! There is hope! The key is transformation through revelation.
“Donâ€™t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know Godâ€™s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
They key to finding peace is not trying harder, waiting on God or learning the right information–the key to finding peace is transformation that comes through believing what God says. Let me explain.
For transformation to take place, we must surrender to God’s way of doing things instead of trying to make it happen on our own. God created each of us to be transformed into the image of his son (Romans 8:29). When we were saved, we were given a new heart (Ezekiel 11:19) and we are now a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are transformed when we believe the truth of what God says about us.
“Without faith, it’s impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). God is not pleased with our own strength and efforts to find peace. God is pleased when we believe what he says about us.Â This week, I encourage you to take time to listen to God’s voice. Let him speak his transforming love over you. God is at work in you, and he desires for you to live a life full of peace. If you’re not sure how to hear God, check out this article on Hearing God.
Prayer: Father, open up my spiritual eyes to your transformation process. Help me surrender to the healing work of Christ in my life.