Since I do not have new artwork but I mention my little baby here she is…
What do you think of when you think of peace? For me I think of calmness, a sense of certainty that God is in control, an acceptance of oneself and ones surroundings. There have been times in my life I had a peace that surpassed understanding even when I was in a situation that was not peaceful. But so often I feel anxious and on edge. For I suffer from a mental condition that makes being at peace challenging.
Because of my mental condition I struggle with community. Being at peace around other people is challenging. For I am most at peace when I am content with myself, spending time at home with my 2 dogs, painting, writing or serving people in order to further God’s kingdom. I am most at peace when I am serving others and telling them about God’s goodness. I think this is because when we are fulfilling our God given purpose we are able to better receive God’s peace.
So what keeps me from God’s peace? Well the burdens of this world often get in the way. My own guilt over past sins and inadequacy takes my peace. My own doubt of myself, worry over what others think of me, and fear of rejection. But most of all I fear pain, helplessness, manipulation and being forced into a situation I am uncomfortable. I fear oppression.
There have been times in my life I felt oppression even in the USA which is considered a free country. Oppression can take a variety of forms. My mental illness itself has been my biggest form of oppression. During times of significant oppression I felt the peace of god in a way that was supernatural or psychologically pathological depending on your view. But the problem is what comes after. For when the oppression leaves there is still the imprint on the brain that leads to another type of oppression.
I have experience this myself but I also see it in others. I see it in friends who grew up in an oppressive country. I see it in patients who have had a traumatic medical event. I see it my little dog who hates her face being touched because of the medical care she had to have as a puppy. It’s all around us in various degrees.
I struggle myself but I having also meet many Christians who struggle with not feeling the peace of God due to the past. Not feeling the peace of God can come from sin but it can also come from past pain that leaves a scar. So what is the answer to this God? I believe that professional counseling is often essential but the Christian community is also essential. For the Christian community can be a good listener, provide prayer, comfort and affirmation without trying to fix the problem or judge. But it can also facilitate people getting professional help by pointing people in the right direction or even offering to hold your hand though the process. There is hope of healing. Let’s be God’s healing hands. For it is not only doctors that heal, it is all of us.
So to those who find feeling the peace of God challenging, I pray God would show you the cause and lead you to a place that can help you heal. May you have patience because God’s healing happens on his timeline, not ours. To those who do not struggle, may you ask God to equip you to help others heal for we all have a role to play. May God show you your role. Amen.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captive and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. “For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.” I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.” Isaiah 61