Do you have a situation in your life driving you crazy?
I’ve got one that keeps popping up in my life. Even I say in advance that I’m going to approach the situation without losing it, I find, more often than not, that I do the exact opposite.
Recently, I had a string of days that stretched me thin. I had a lot of prep to do for a get-together at my house. The pressures of my kids’ schedule had been bearing down on me and, to top it all off, conflict popped up with another person. I had had enough.
So, it shouldn’t have been surprising that in the midst of all of the drama, still feeling stressed and agitated, I vented about my frustrating situation (with hysterical tears) to a complete stranger. I felt embarrassed by my lack of self-control and oversharing of the situation. Why had I allowed myself to unload so passionately and thoughtlessly?
Ever been there?
Colossians 3:15 says: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
Two observations we can make:
How We Can Experience the Peace of God
1. Jesus is the Peace-giver.
The passage tells us to allow the “peace of Christ to rule in [our] hearts.” Jesus is identified as the One who gives us peace. And His peace is unlike what the world offers. Jesus says elsewhere in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Christ’s peace is more than a fuzzy “kumbayah” feeling, although it can be that. Christ’s peace is that which can boss our unruly emotions around and bring them into submission. The word “rule” in the verse is a term used in Olympic games where a person would preside over the games and maintain order. The verse tells us that we to allow God’s peace to rule or govern us — crazy emotions and all.
As The Life Application Study Bible says, “When we have a clash of emotions we ‘decide’ between conflicting elements by using a rule of peace.” In others words, we decide to allow the peace of God to dictate our responses rather than simply allowing our emotions to dictate us.
2. Because Jesus is the Peace-giver, we can come to Him for peace.
Knowing that Jesus is the Peace-giver, how can we, as believers, “decide” for His peace to rule over us? What about those times when it feels like our feelings decide for us? When I prayed to have understanding of this verse, God reminded me not only that Jesus is the Peace-giver, He reminded me that we need to go to the Peace-giver to receive peace.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (emphasis mine). Interestingly, the Amplified translation of Colossians 3:15 reads like this: “Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]” (emphasis mine).
We can know Christ and have asked Him in our life and still live without His peace. It is walking daily with Him that activates that peace to rule over our hearts and minds.
In my situation where I overshared with a person, I started my day without spending that time with the Lord and spewed toxic emotions on the first person to ask me how I was doing. Of course, it felt good to share my frustrations. But, later that day, I still felt burdened. I finally went to the Lord in prayer and sat for a few minutes with Him. I felt too anguished to say much, but in telling Him how I felt, a tranquility came over me and the hysteria inside calmed.
We can have peace even in the midst of challenging circumstances when we stay connected to Jesus through daily prayer and the reading of His Word. And this peace isn’t just a personal peace for our own benefit, this is a peace that will affect our relationships with others as well. When we are better able to control our responses, we will find it easier to maintain peace with others around us — even when we have differing opinions on an issue.
To Increase Our Peace — Add Thanksgiving
At the end of the passage we are instructed not only to cultivate the peace of God by spending time with the Peace-Giver, we are instructed to give thanks. So many times, even in prayer, when we are distressed, we focus on merely telling God what we are unhappy about and what we need. While telling God how we feel is going to improve our overall outlook and mood, we can also maintain our peace by expressing gratitude to God even in the midst of our most difficult situations — both in prayer and throughout the day.
Will we sometimes fail and lose it even when we carve out this time for the Lord? We will! And in those instances we need to give ourselves grace. Some days we might face unexpected circumstances where quiet time isn’t possible or we do spend time with God and our flesh still takes over. We are not going to be perfect in managing our emotions. When we fail, we can ask for His forgiveness and apologize if we’re offended or hurt someone else in our anger. The verse, I believe, isn’t to make us feel guilty about all the times we’ve missed the mark.
Rather, by emphasizing that we need the peace of God and thanksgiving to govern our emotions, Paul gives us the necessary tools to navigate the inevitable conflicts and irritating circumstances that will get on our last nerve. By spending time with God, we will not have to waste time trying to fix circumstances or people to work the way we want so we can have peace. We can maintain our calm and internal peace even in the midst of aggravating circumstances.
Doesn’t that sound better than losing control?
A Reason to Give Thanks: As we enter into the thanksgiving season, it may be hard to find reasons to be thankful. Storms are tearing through communities. Civil unrest continues on in many cities. Our nation is divided along political, religious, and racial lines. Covid-19 rages on. How we can we think of giving thanks? The Bible tells us to give thanks in all circumstances — not because we are thankful for the situations, but because we can be thankful in the midst of the circumstances. Thankfulness is necessary to help us navigate life’s chaos and still maintain the peace of God. Join me for the next few posts where I put the spotlight on gratitude.