She was tired. After years of being overlooked, patronized and ignored she had reached the breaking point. She didn’t believe in divorce but she couldn't bear the thought of living forever with a man who did not seem to respect or love her. She knew the Bible talked about husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church and she longed for this from her husband. He had promised her this love many times but the promises were empty, his behavior never changed. Her life was in turmoil and her home was in constant conflict. She wanted peace. She hadn’t felt it in so long.
She finally decided that enough was enough. She was done. She told her husband that their marriage was over, that she was leaving. As the words left her mouth she felt something she had not felt in a long time, peace. She felt calm, even a sense of hope. In that peace and calmness she felt as if God was confirming her decision, that she had finally found what she was looking for.
She was wrong. She felt peace and calm but it was not from God. Like so many others in similarly difficult circumstances she fundamentally misunderstood the Biblical concept of peace.
When people define peace they typically think in terms of life circumstances or mental state. We think of peace as the absence of conflict or as a state of mental calm. We agree with the dictionary.com definition: “freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety; tranquility; serenity.” When stress is absent, peace exists.
When we seek this type of peace we will be tempted to leave stressful circumstances, to avoid conflict and to walk away from difficult relationships. When we do walk away we will, for a while, feel a sense of relief. But is that peace? Is this what God wants for us?
In seeking to understand the peace that God brings it is wise to see how He describes it. Just before He was crucified, Jesus promised peace to His followers-
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” John 14:27
He was describing a peace that was different from the peace given by the world, both in its permanence and essence. It is helpful to remember the events that followed Jesus’ words. Within hours Jesus was arrested and His followers were scattered. 6 weeks later, after His resurrection, some of His followers were arrested and beaten for their faith. Within a short time these same disciples were being put to death as religious outlaws. Not exactly how people typically define peace!
The Apostle Paul later wrote that we should not be anxious, but that we should instead pray, and that the result would be that “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Paul says that God’s peace surpasses all comprehension. The peace that people feel when they leave a difficult relationship, avoid a problem or walk away from a challenge is not beyond comprehension, it is perfectly understandable. It is not a stretch then to say that if the peace experienced is predictable and understandable, it may not be from God. It definitely should not be cited as confirmation of God’s will!
My prayer for the woman in the difficult marriage is that she will learn to seek the peace of God. A peace that results not from the absence of difficulty in life but rather a peace that sustains in the midst of our difficulties. God’s peace comes from our relationship with Him, not from our relationships with others. God’s peace comes from doing the right and difficult things, in knowing that our lives please Him. This peace is not dependent in any way on circumstances, which means it is available to everyone in every moment.
Lacking peace? Under stress? I would love to pray for you. Feel free to send me a message through the contact page on this site. Know someone who needs to hear these words? Click the share button to share the post with others. You can have posts delivered to your inbox by subscribing to the blog, or follow me on twitter@bartbarrettmd.