Jeanette Thompson: Keeping Peace and Joy in the Storm
Updated: May 9, 2020
The current situation we are facing is a storm that we’ve never seen before. In our lifetime, we’ve never been in a storm that threatens us all at the same time like this. We are challenged commonly by the threats to our health and livelihoods, and individually in such a variety of different ways as well. So, in many ways, we’re united in this test of our faith but the truth is it’s not the first storm we’ve ever faced.
It’s not the first time we've faced a life storm we thought we might not survive, even if that was an emotional storm, a health storm, a family storm, a storm of confusion about something in our lives, or a relational storm etc. But I’m sure, based on the simple fact that we’re still here testifies, that we’ve come through, we’ve gotten to the other side or we’ve found a way to be sheltered in the storm. God doesn’t just want us to ‘weather the storm’, He wants us to have peace and joy ‘in’ the storm. I have come to understand that the only way for me to have peace and joy is to recognise that I am not in control!
1. Peace + joy are intentional
Peace and Joy are God’s Promise to us, and we can know that He has a way of us living in them and keeping them.
The truth is none of us ‘naturally’ stay in perfect peace and joy all the time. We have to be intentional about keeping them. This intentionality is necessary because everything in the natural world around us is working to build fear and worry, fed by negative statistics, questions, the unknown, even the current facts and risks. But we need to remember the fact that if negative emotions like fear and worry can be fed and built, then why not the positive emotions like peace and joy? I’m pretty certain that we’d all rather live with peace and joy in our daily lives. So, it’s the best news for us that the emotions that God is ready to give us, are the good ones. Peace and joy are His gifts and worry, fear and anxiety are not part of His ‘bag of goodies’ or blessings for us. It’s not a promise from God – ‘I will give you worry’ or ‘I will put fear on you’. Actually, He says the opposite. God’s word to us is, ‘I did not give you a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind’ (2 Timothy 1:7)…and He tells us in Philippians 4:6 ‘Don’t Worry About Anything’. So, if worry and fear are not His gifts, we can be excited that the opposites of those are actually what He wants for us. Peace and joy are God’s promise to us, and we can know that He has a way of us living in them and keeping them.
2. Know that God is in control
There is no fine print where it explains that God has given himself an ‘opt out’ button where His mercies don’t reach, or He doesn’t have enough, or His grace isn’t sufficient for this and only after this all settles down, He’ll go back to being God.
We all like to think we are in control of our lives. We can be filled with such peace and joy when things are running our way i.e. people are acting the way they should, children are listening to everything we say, everyone is valuing our opinions and others are making the choices we think are right.
For me personally, the greatest levels of fear and worry come when I feel like my control balance is out. And, if our peace and joy are dependent on the level of control, we have then we will never truly be able to attain them.
But the reality is even when I feel like there is a certain amount of peace around me, I’m still never really in control of it all. This current situation is revealing that even more, I don’t have power over this! The truth is, I have power over very little, except my own response to situations. I can’t control anyone else. I can’t control a virus, I can’t control who gets sick, I can’t control someone else’s decisions.
That is why the Good News is, God is in control! One truth that holds me is that God is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End (Revelation 1:8 & 22:13) and that just doesn’t denote that He’s started things, left us to our own devices, and then will wrap everything up in the end when we’ve made a mess of it all. No, He’s the sustainer ‘through’ it all as well. He is always with me, He never leaves me or forsakes me. His love endures forever. He not only has gone before me but He promises to walk with me. His mercies are new every morning.
So, if He was Creator God at the very beginning with a plan, He is the finisher of all things, He’s the sustainer of all things and He’s holding it all together, so then there’s never a moment that He’s not there for me. These truths keep me in peace because if He is with me that means His power, His strength, His love, His help, His comfort, His wisdom, everything that He is, is available for me now. He knows the end from the beginning, He sees it all. I don’t know the future, I don’t even know what today will bring, but I am held and loved by the one who does. He’s promised to be a daily strength.
So, I need to hold on to those truths about Him and they enable me to live in peace and joy. There are no clauses in the Bible where it says of God ‘My promises never fail, except in a time of a Pandemic, then that time they won’t cover you’. There is no fine print where it explains that God has given himself an ‘opt-out’ button where His mercies don’t reach, or He doesn’t have enough, or His grace isn’t sufficient for this and only after this all settles down, He’ll go back to being God. No, that’s just not how it is, God is forever faithful and forever true to His promises!
3. God never changes
...this is God’s perspective all the time’. He is always above it all. He’s not overcome in the moment, He’s not unaware, but is moving strategically in people’s hearts and lives, and He’s still holding the world together.
Another important point to remember is that God hasn’t changed. I believe in this moment, He wants to show us more aspects of His faithfulness. We have the opportunity to know more of His miraculous power. We are face to face with our inadequacies and lack of control, but that’s God’s opportunity to shine through. So I draw from my faith, what I know to be true of my ever-faithful God. I remember His goodness. I remember His mercy. I remember His promises. I trust that He’s in control and He’s got a higher perspective than me.
I was vividly reminded of this recently when I was flying home to Australia. Sitting on the plane about 35000 feet above everything and I had a revelation moment. At that moment in the flight, it was peaceful, there was no panic on the flight, we were still watching movies, the attendants were still just as nice as ever, we were still receiving our meals and I just thought wow, I’ve just had a moment when I forgot that below me the world was a bit crazy and there was a pandemic going on. Because from that position, far above it all, with no access to the latest news reports, it occurred to me ‘this is God’s perspective all the time’. He is always above it all. He’s not overcome in the moment, He’s not unaware, but is moving strategically in people’s hearts and lives, and He’s still holding the world together. He’s still God and He knows what is going to happen. He doesn’t see it as I do, His perspective is very different. I can rest on His complete and accurate knowledge of every situation. During that flight, the things of earth had grown so dim because I had a moment to think about Him and His perspective. As I was thinking over that revelation, I was reminded of the beautiful song ‘Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus’. The words go on to say, ‘Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace’. We need to do this regularly at this time, we need to turn our eyes to Jesus.
When we’re looking at Him, it’s hard to be captivated by anything else. Like when you take a photo and the thing that you focus your lens on comes sharply into the focus and the other things blur in the background.
This is what happens when we allow our attention and our vision to be fully on Jesus. With this focus, we can trust that He’s got His eyes on it all and He’s working it all out for our good and we don’t have to be the ones trying to control the outcomes. He is more than able now as He has always been!
Practical ways for keeping peace and joy in the storm
Daily Devotions with Jesus – Feed on His Promises
Pray – Reminder that He’s in Control
Limit the amount of Negative Information - Keep informed but don’t feed on it
Dialogue Your doubts – Honestly Write out Prayers/Journal
Breathe – 4,7,8 Method – Breathe In (4secs), Hold Breathe (7secs), Breathe Out (8secs)
Be Grateful – Remind yourself of the Blessings around you
So during this time, when we are in a storm, let’s remember that it’s natural that the storms are going to come. We can’t hold them back but we can choose what we shelter under. I’d rather be under the shelter of His wings than anywhere else. I would rather trust in His control and power than my own inadequacies and weaknesses. I would rather trust His informed perspective than my limited understanding. Let’s stay focused on Him and trust that He knows exactly what is happening and He’s in control. With our eyes fixed in this position, we can have the promises of His peace and joy in the middle of the storm.
Born and bred Aussie, Jeanette has spent the last 10 years as the founding Director of the FreeToBe Project in Kolkata, India. Through her work, she sees children protected, empowered, and strengthened, knowing that one life change will impact generations to come.
#peace #favour #joy #christianwomen #realstories #christianstories #jesus #christianity