By all accounts, it’s been a bizarre year. When the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve 2020, not a single one of us knew we were on the brink of a global pandemic. In the months that followed, we found ourselves navigating the new reality of social distancing, a dispersed church, sky-rocketing unemployment, a plummeting economy, masks, canceled plans, remote learning, home offices, and a variety of other obstacles we’d never before confronted.
Combined with the stressors of a global pandemic, it’s been a contentious election year that has left tempers flared on both sides of the political aisle. As of late, it’s been said that our country has never been more divided. Headline news and social media feeds are bulging with evidence of political division and people saying things we would’ve never imagined overhearing in polite company. Perhaps, the one thing we can all agree on is that this year has been fraught with uncertainty.
So, what does this mean for Christians?
The Peace Jesus Offers
Christ-followers are no strangers to crises, uncertainty, and an unstable political climate. All of these things impacted Jesus’ first disciples, and this is what Jesus said to them:
“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world” – John 16:33
Jesus made it clear this world isn’t an easy place to live. But despite the inevitable problems, Jesus encourages His followers by the promise of His peace. The peace Jesus offers isn’t contingent on good health, a thriving economy, or a preferred politician residing in the Oval Office. If you pay careful attention to Jesus’ words, you’ll notice He said, “in me you may have peace” (emphasis mine).
According to Jesus, this world has no peace to offer. If we’re going to experience peace in times of turmoil, it will come from Jesus, or it won’t come at all, because every other supposed source of peace is a counterfeit.
I confess there have been times this year when I’ve looked for peace in the wrong places. I’ve placed hope in government leaders, the science community, the promise of a new vaccine, good health, and our medical professionals to name a few. Of course, these are all good things, and I count them as blessings, but any of these things could fold like a cheap card table, and even at their finest hour, none of them are capable of providing the peace Jesus describes.
So that leaves us with the question, “How do I access the peace Jesus spoke of?”
While I’m convinced there’s no quick and easy formula, I do believe there are ways we can align ourselves in Christ that place us in a posture to receive the peace Jesus promised. Here are three ways we can experience peace in times of turmoil:
1. Cultivate your relationship with Christ.
Remember, there’s no peace apart from Jesus, so we have to be people who abide in Christ. The Book of Isaiah describes Jesus as a “man of suffering who knew what sickness was” (Isaiah 53:3). As we walk through seasons of hardship, who better to guide us than the One acquainted with suffering? As we abide in Christ through prayer and the study of His Word, we find that Jesus is everything we need. Experiencing Him in a day-to-day relationship provides us with the peace He describes.
2. Meditate on the promises of God.
I want to say this as gently as I know how, but scores of Christians are spending more time on social media and entertainment than in Scripture and spiritual disciplines, and if that’s the lifestyle we cultivate, we can’t be surprised if peace eludes us. To be sure, social media is often used for good, but it’s not a source of peace. God’s promises provide peace in times of uncertainty.
A time is coming when God’s people will experience no more suffering. But until then, as we go through times of struggle, we have to invest time thinking through the promises found in Scripture. God’s promises are lifelines of hope, and they give us good reason to anticipate better days.
3. Keep eternity in mind.
It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day circumstances and fail to live with eternity in mind. But as Christians, our best days are always ahead of us. As believers on this side of the cross, we know how the story ends, and it’s outrageously good.
I’m writing this prior to the presidential election and don’t know what the results will be, but I know our Savior won’t be arriving on Air Force One, so we can have peace regardless of the election outcome. Likewise, none of us know what the coming weeks will bring regarding the pandemic. But we don’t have to know how the next days, weeks, and months will unfold. Ultimately, Jesus is the One who holds the future—and He is our peace (Ephesians 2:14).