As a kid I loved riding in the back of my grandpa’s pickup watching the sunset after feeding it was so peaceful. I loved laying in the grass looking at stars. Not a worry in my mind. I used to lay in my chicken coop as a teenager and watch the chicken’s just peck the ground. Going outside at my grandma Moon’s after a fried chicken supper hearing the locusts and feeling the cool breeze, smelling the supper smell coming from the house was enchanting. Riding horses with my wife and girls in the pasture brings such peace. During the sunset the earth has a calm if we enjoy it.
All these moments were repeated and peaceful. I didn’t think about our lives, unachieved dreams, dreads, commitments or other peace robbers. I rested in the beauty of the moment and Gods creation. Even secular humanistic approaches recognize calming effects from waterfalls, natural sounds, light therapy, landscape pictures, and lush green settings.
Experts have found colors and certain room enhancements reduce anxiety. Isn’t it interesting how the natural beauty of God’s creation sends a peace and calming effect? God’s creation and His will eliminates struggles with restlessness? The devil is the author of unexplained tension. The devil is there to steal happiness, energy, joy, perspective, goals, hope, and so much more.
The interstate superhighway for these robberies are anxiety. Call anxiety what you want, we can define it 100 different ways, but the end result remains the same, anxiety is the absence of peace. Looking at the Bible, there is not one scripture where God gives us the gift of anxiety. Even Jesus experienced anxiety before his crucifixion but that was a brief moment.
What about our lives and the everyday attacks on our God ordained purpose? Jesus taught through parables, and so it is important for us to look at biblical figures who struggled with anxiety. The prophet Jeremiah was clearly called by God. Jeremiah authored the book of Jeremiah, both books of Kings, and Lamentations. Jeremiah had a unique call. He was the bearer of bad news. His ministry was from 626-587 B.C. Remember we are counting backwards before Jesus.
Many scholars call him the weeping prophet. He proclaimed the famine in Judah. Jerusalem would be invaded. He watched God lift his hand when Israelite people were sacrificing their children to Baal. He resisted plots to kill him
Cursed is the one who does not obey the terms of this covenant—
“Proclaim all these words in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: ‘
But they did not listen or pay attention;
instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts.
So I brought on them all the curses of the covenant I had commanded them to follow but that they did not keep.’ ”
After Jeremiah tells everybody this, the Lord then tells him
“There is a conspiracy among the people of Judah and those who live in Jerusalem. They have returned to the sins of their ancestors, who refused to listen to my words. They have followed other gods to serve them. Both Israel and Judah have broken the covenant I made with their ancestors.
Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape.
Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them. The towns of Judah and the people of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they burn incense, but they will not help them at all when disaster strikes.
“Do not pray for this people or offer any plea or petition for them, because I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their distress. “
When you engage in your wickedness, then you rejoice. ” The Lord called you a thriving olive tree with fruit beautiful in form. But with the roar of a mighty storm he will set it on fire, and its branches will be broken.
The Lord Almighty, who planted you, has decreed disaster for you, because the people of both Israel and Judah have done evil and aroused my anger by burning incense to Baal. Because the Lord revealed their plot to me, I knew it, for at that time he showed me what they were doing.
I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; I did not realize that they had plotted against me, saying, “Let us destroy the tree and its fruit; let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more.”
But you, Lord Almighty, who judge righteously and test the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance on them, for to you I have committed my cause.
Therefore this is what the Lord says about the people of Anathoth who are threatening to kill you, saying, “Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord or you will die by our hands”—
God said: “I will punish them. Their young men will die by the sword, their sons and daughters by famine. Not even a remnant will be left to them, because I will bring disaster on the people of Anathoth in the year of their punishment.””
Jeremiah 11:1-23 NIV
Sometimes it is frustrating when you do the correct work and the attack isn’t stopping. Sometimes the attack is part of the plan. In the midst of the attack God provides comfort. It didn’t say Jeremiah found peace. It didn’t even say this made the situation better. It only said God would take care of the people after him. Great, but when?
That’s exactly the problem. Why when we are doing the will do we get the frustration? There were no logistics, no syllabus. Some things we just don’t understand. It’s ok not to have all the answers. Regardless there is still opportunity for peace in this passage. God sends comfort to give you rest in lieu of anxiety. He talks about the destiny of the attackers, but there is no immediate fix. The opportunity to resist the anxiety is there and it’s up to us to determine how it is handled.
We may never understand the meaning of our situation but God will always provide peace. We struggle with control and expect God to respond to our terms. The peace is there. You have to grab hold of it. It’s a choice to take the gift because the gift is already there. You don’t need to be asking God for it.
There is a story of two young people who grow up together. When there were adults they took different paths. They lost track of each other. One day they are bother in court. One guy is the judge and the other is a suspect. He recognizes the judge is his old friend. He expects a break. Instead the judge slams the gavel with a guilty verdict and a maximum fine. He then dismisses court. Takes off his robe and offers to pay his buddies fine.
The gift is there for the friend to take. The gift of peace is in every situation for everyone. You have to choose to take it. I’m repeating this because we have to remind ourselves of this repeatedly. The old phrase, take time to smell the roses is significant.
Are you stopping and enjoying Gods peace or are you staying so caught up in the afflictions you can’t break free?
1 Corinthians 14:33 English Standard Version (ESV)
For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
Don’t let the devil play mind games with you. Don’t allow your peace to be stolen. Take it. Hold on to it and enjoy it. When the car breaks down use the time to watch the sky and remind yourself God has everything working together for the good. When people mistreat you, or your circumstances crush you, remember every day is yours to capture if you want, you can feel peace.
Philip Lukens is the senior pastor of the Carr Community Church. To receive updates please enter your e-mail address below and click subscribe.
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