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Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved the hymn “It Is Well.” There was something about those lyrics that brought a sense of peace whenever I sang them: “When peace like a river, attendeth my way… It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
Horatio G. Spafford, the man who penned that hymn, experienced profound tragedy with the death of his son to sickness, the loss of most of his real estate investments in the Great Chicago Fire, and then later the news that all four of his daughters had perished at sea in a ship wreck.
How did Horatio find peace in the face of so much tragedy?
He was rooted in his faith and he understood peace in his soul.
I only began to understand this in the midst of my own tragedy in 2014 when my husband was diagnosed with stage four cancer at age 40. Though we were often gripped with fear and uncertainty, God continued to give us surprising peace in the midst of our storm.
Peace is certainly not a formula or a 5-step process, but here are some specific ways we found peace in our situation:
Start by defining peace.
We often think of the word peace as the absence of fighting and chaos. Jesus gave peace as a gift to us in the midst of turbulent situations. His definition of peace was different from world peace. He cared most deeply about peace in our hearts.
Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.” John 14:27 CSB
In this chapter, Jesus was talking about the gift of the Holy Spirit. He explained that He would be going away to heaven, but he was leaving the Holy Spirit to personally guide and give us peace.
Separate lies from the truth.
When we are facing trials, we often let our minds wander to the worst-case scenario. We entertain our fears and let them rule our hearts. The Psalmist warns us:
Turn away from evil and do what is good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14 CSB
We actually have to pivot from the lies of the enemy and bask in God’s truth. We have to intentionally seek peace by separating lies from the truth. For example, when my husband was diagnosed with cancer, I was fraught with fear. I feared being alone and raising my girls without my partner. Yet, all throughout scripture God promises to be with me and to never leave me alone. I had to cling to that truth and turn away from my fears.
Surrender control to the One who controls it all.
Oftentimes we do not feel peace because we are trying too hard to control a situation. I learned this in my husband’s cancer journey. I believed if we chose just the right treatment it would save him. The reality is we are never in control. The peace only came when I was able to surrender control to God and trust Him for the outcome.
This verse reminds me that God’s peace surpasses understanding and control of all the details:
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 CSB
Meditate on scripture to encourage your heart.
One practical way I learned to find peace is by writing out and reciting scripture. A mentor of mine encouraged me years ago to develop a scripture notebook. In each season, I write out verses that encourage and bring me hope. When I focus my mind on the truth in scripture, I do not have space for stress and worry. This proved helpful in doctor appointments and during the hardest days of my husband’s cancer journey.
Listen to worship music.
Music is another way to fix our minds on God’s truth and to calm our fears. I love the story in 1 Samuel 16 when David played the lyre for Saul who was being attacked by a harmful spirit. The music calmed and refreshed him.
I like to create worship playlists on Spotify to help me through different seasons. When the chaos is swirling or I am fraught with worry, music helps me fix my mind on the truth and calms my soul like Saul. It’s difficult to worry and worship at the same time.
Discover His glory through Creation.
God frequently brings me peace through nature. The petals of a perennial freesia pushing through hard earth, ocean waves crashing, a pine tree pointing toward the heavens – all of these remind me that God is in control and He is in the business of bringing beauty from ashes. My daughters are used to me pulling over to the side of the road whenever God starts painting the sky at sunset. There is something about this spectacular color show that brings me a profound sense of comfort and peace.
Friend, remember you are not alone. We all face unexpected trials. God promises to offer peace and comfort if we continually seek Him.
Write out the following scripture and pray for peace in your present situation:
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thessalonians 3:16 ESV
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Therefore encourage one another
and build each other up as you are already doing.
1 Thess 5:11 CSB