How often do we finally reach a state of peaceful contentment and then wish we could hang out a sign that says, “Do not disturb”?
Of course we can’t prevent disturbances or stressful situations, but when they come, the Bible says God can give us peace inside. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”1 If we turn to Jesus, He will give us peace. If we are spending time talking with Him in prayer, reading His words, or even just thinking about Him, the Bible says the reward is peace.
India, where I live, is a country of wide, sweeping farmlands; huge mountains jutting their peaks into the sky; broad rivers lazily moving over rocks. The land is as peaceful as it always has been, but the people who live here, like anywhere in the world, are often stressed.
Dr. Hans Selye, a prominent medical research scientist, has observed, “In this hurry-up world we are subjecting ourselves to too many stresses. We hurry constantly and worry incessantly.” Unfortunately, many have yet to learn to develop inner peace.
I was cleaning up my brushes and paint cans after some volunteers and I finished painting a large mural for the local Sunday school when Maxim passed me a note:
I was really encouraged to meet and work on this project with people like you, so full of faith and positiveness. Can you please remember to say a prayer for me, as I’m going through a very tough time in my life? Thank you.
Oh, how divinely sweet it is to come into the secret of His presence and abide in His pavilion!
—David Brainerd (1718–1747), missionary to the Native Americans
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.
I vividly recall the men in our neighborhood gathering every evening after work in a vacant lot next to my house for a game of horseshoes. The pace of life was more relaxed when I was a child. Work was from nine to five, and then it was time to knock off and play horseshoes.
For a good bit of my life, I’ve been a worrier. My take on the “power of positive thinking” / “look on the bright side” philosophy was, “Bah, humbug! That kind of advice is for wimps. I’m a realist. When the going gets rough, I worry about it! No apologies.” It’s not that I’m a pessimist; it’s just that I’d fret when things happened that I couldn’t control. (I have to admit that I’d fret a fair bit over things I could control, too.) It should come as no surprise then that over time I had unknowingly developed an ulcer which then became aggravated.1
The year had been full of events, deadlines, accomplishments. I was working hard teaching English in a private school, as well as tutoring from home. Simultaneously I was working on a diploma in Russian Philology and a Cambridge Proficiency Certificate in English. On top of this, I was leading Christian meetings at a university center and an English Speaking club. It was a full schedule and I loved it.
December is a month of extras. There’s usually extra preparation work to do at home, extra visitors, and extra expenses. Most of us get extra time off from studies or jobs. Many churches see extra people in their pews. Charities receive extra donations, even extra volunteers. We may eat and drink extra this month, and put on some extra pounds as a result.
Our jeep bumped along the rugged trail that was going to take us to the main road and back home to Nairobi, after a successful humanitarian aid project in a distant rural area of Kenya. My thoughts were already traveling to the busy week ahead. The next project was around the corner and needed to be planned and organized, and there seemed to be too few hours in the day to get it all done.
I love Psalm 23. Perhaps it’s because I especially love the verses about being in calm, beautiful, and peaceful situations: “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”1