Where is the Peace?
We all are pursuing peace of mind. Instead of finding it, however, we often find more stress. Stress has become an epidemic throughout society. Workplace stress in the United States alone, costs employers over $200 billion dollars a year in absenteeism, medical costs, and decreased productivity. This stress is caused by pay cuts, fear of layoffs, and conflict with the boss or other employees.
Some of the biggest stress producers are financial problems. Am I going to be able to keep their home? Am I going to have enough money to retire? Will I be able to afford to pay for my children's college? There are also many people that are out of work and struggling to make ends meet.
Family situations also create stress and tension. Marital problems are one of main causes of tension and mental anguish. Followed closely behind marital trouble would be conflict with our children. Older children especially, can add to their parent's level of stress.
With stress and tension as constant companions for most of us, is peace of mind even possible? The Bible makes it clear that it is possible to have peace of mind and to not be in bondage to the stresses that assail us. There is a very important passage of Scripture that deals with this topic in Paul's letter to the Philippian Church: "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4: 6-7)
Stress and worry go hand in hand. Paul's advice offers a practical tool to use when we feel the tentacles of stress squeezing the life out of us. Talk to God about it. If we believe that God is there and listens to us when we pray, then prayer is the place to go when worry starts to attack our minds. As we turn to God in prayer, we are acknowledging that He is bigger than whatever problems that we have.
The promise that Paul gives us in this passage is that if we turn to God in prayer, we will experience God's peace, which will guard our hearts and minds. Given a choice, most would people would choose peace over worry every time. Yet, the idea of having to pray to achieve peace is foreign to many. The skeptic might say, "It just can't be that easy."
Notice that Paul does not promise us that our problems are going to disappear. We are still going to have to deal with life's struggles. The promise that Paul makes in these verses is that while we are going through stressful situations, we can know and experience God's peace.
One last idea from this passage that is worth considering is the importance of being thankful. Paul says that not only should we pray about everything, we should also be thankful for all God has done. The problem with worry is that it is very short-sighted.
Most of us have much to be grateful for, even when we are going through a difficult time. Reminding ourselves of all the things that we have to be grateful for goes a long way to getting our minds off of what we are worrying about. Peace of mind will come when we learn to turn to God in prayer and are thankful for the ways that He has blessed us.
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