Thursday, April 3, 2014

Joy and Peace

I believe joy is different from deep happiness. Happiness can change with our circumstances. Joy comes from spending time in God’s presence. So maybe it’s more accurate to call it “the joy of the Lord."
When we fully understand how hopelessly dead we were, how desperately we needed a Savior, and what Christ did for us—joy can bubble up and drive us to worship even on the most trying days of parenting.
I find I’m most joyful when I’m gripped by the fact that I was perilously close to hell when Jesus snatched me up. In those moments I can’t do anything. I just want to sit still and be the rescued one. We need to learn what real joy is.
I used to know a woman who had a habit of creating crises in her life. It seemed she was addicted to turmoil. I’m not sure if it made her feel more alive or if she merely enjoyed the attention, but every crisis that came upon her was self-inflicted. It was always something, like an unexpected NSF charge from her bank, a pending eviction, or an embarrassing car repossession. She never seemed to see it as her fault because she felt she was the victim. Her world was never in a state of peace very long, and it was sad to watch.
Isaiah 26:3 reminds us that our Master will keep us in perfect peace if our minds are steadied on him. It’s easy in the early years of a divorce to lose tranquility when you’ve embraced the world’s peace. A lot of doo-doo hits you. If the peace of Christ isn’t your soap of choice, then even a really good fire hose won’t help.
It’s no secret we dads struggle with peace. Even the disciples who hung out all the time with Jesus wrestled with this. In Matthew 14, Jesus had just finished feeding thousands of people with one boy’s lunch. They saw the miracle—they were part of it. Yet only a few hours later on a stormy sea, they were freaking out, thinking they were going to die.     
This wasn't a single incident. The need for reassurance was an ongoing essential for them. Even after he died, Jesus reminded the frightened followers to rest in his peace. They were likely thinking they might be next to die at the hands of the Romans. Then Christ appears and comforts them with a greeting of peace. In fact, John 20 shows us three times in just a few days where Jesus needs to give this blessing to the fearful disciples. He knew that they would go through tribulations, but He wanted them to “take heart” because he had “overcome the world” (John16:33b).
Scripture makes it clear: peace is a gift. Yet I so often try to obtain it on my own. Dads, you can’t do 

peace. You can only be peaceful. So don't be anxious about stuff but lift up your requests to the Lord 

with thanks. Then the peace of God that goes way beyond your comprehension will protect you 

against worry (adapted from Phil. 4:6-7). When do you find you most need to pray for peace?