Finding the Peace of Christ in the ChaosBy Garrett Higbee
July 28, 2020
Lately I have been at times confused, weary, even felt moments of hopelessness and anxiety for our future in the United States; I confess it. As fellow human beings, part of all creation, and concerned believers we should all be moved by the suffering, unrest, and social issues. Hopefully we are all on our knees. But where we look for hope, where we run for rest, where we look for help reveals where our heart is centered. Do our churches know the internal peace of Christ, profoundly contrasted to the external chaos?
There are now so many worldviews bombarding us that truth is now defined by personal agenda. You see it in social media, the way students are taught in public schools, and how most reporters have lost all objectivity. Clearly our family of origin, our ethnicity, our experiences in life all shape how we view the world. But for believers something should happen at conversion that radically takes precedence over all that: the gospel changes everything. We see things with new eyes (2 Cor 5:16–17). It is God’s will that our mind is informed by His word and everything going forward is influenced by the Gospel. If you let your mind wander to the temporal or spend too much time in front of a screen and you can easily feel overwhelmed. If you let the “god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4) whisper to you that you need to “take care of Number 1,” you might make decisions that grieve or quench the Holy Spirit. There has never been a more important time to stay in the Word, pray in the Spirit, and fix your eyes on Christ than now.
Pastors, elders, and flock need to live in a way that helps makes sense out of what’s going on biblically. Wisdom literature like the Psalms let us eavesdrop on how many spiritual leaders of that day dealt with both personal and societal crisis. These are defining moments in our lives, our culture and in our faith families. So how do we live out the gospel and a biblical worldview in these tumultuous times? I want to offer three ways to be at peace and bring the peace of the gospel to those around you and ultimately to a desperate world.
Remember peace is in a person (Isa 26:3).
There is war between political parties and war in our streets, which almost makes us forget the real war is within against an invisible enemy. If you want to start a revolution (and for Christians that means a revival) it has to start within your own soul. Is your mind set on Christ?
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
We are not unmoved by the suffering, the injustice, or the unrest. Instead, we are moved to pray, to comfort, to point people to the gospel more than ever!
How many of us have had to console a spouse, a child, or a friend who missed a graduation, wedding or funeral due to by social distancing, shelter at home, or a financial shortfall? White people are reaching out to African American friends letting them know we hear them; we love them, and we support them. We are called to comfort others and be ambassadors of reconciliation, but we would be deeply remiss if we try to bring horizontal reconciliation only (2 Cor 5:20). Worldly comfort is temporary and peace between us is not sustainable unless Christ is the source. When you talk to your people, your family, your loved ones help them see that the most significant issue is not threats to our health, social justice, or our physical safety. The ultimate threat is sin working in a fallen world and in our own hearts. God hates death, prejudice, and pride-filled privilege, but it is the fruit not the root of what is tearing apart our country.
Go to Christ for soul rest (Matt 11:28-30).
This season has brought great weariness to the soul. Are you tired and burdened? Have you experienced how hope deferred makes the heart sick (Prov 13:12a)? The low-grade anxiety, the constant news cycle, the heightened cultural tension has diverted our attention and sapped our strength. There is no lasting benefit to binging on a Netflix series, taking an extended vacation, or even sleeping in. It’s not just the body that is exhausted; the mind does not need another distraction. What we desperately need is rest for our souls. That rest is where we meet Christ in the chaos, but you have to take Him up on His invitation.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
We want those we counsel and care for to know we have been with Jesus recently and regularly. We want them to know there is no real rest in anything or anyone else. People are fatigued, thirsty, overwhelmed in a profound way; what a huge opportunity to take them to the well of living water.
Pray through the Psalms (Psalm 32:6-7).
Do you have trouble knowing how to pray in these times? If you want to experience peace, try praying through a Psalm that expresses your soul’s cry. Receive the comfort that only comes through communion with Christ, then go and spread it to others (2 Cor 1:6–7).
I was recently in Psalm 37. It is what we need to hear! Here is how I prayed: “God I will be still before you, I will wait patiently for you, I will not fret.” You get the idea.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
Refrain from anger,
and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.” (vs 7-9)
If you are a pastor, there might be a compelling article you can write, or a helpful video message for your people, but what your people need even more is time in the Word. Not just a random passage but a place that meets them in their fear, sadness, or anger depending on what they are going through. Teach them this forgotten practice of praying through the Psalms out loud. I would even do it as a family every evening, or in an online format with your people every week. Has there ever been a better time to lament, to cry out, to confess? If we don’t help our people groan with all creation (Rom 8:23), they will likely be tempted to fret and complain like those wandering in the desert (Numbers 11: 1-3). If you (or they) sense a block in communing with Christ, remember asking God’s forgiveness for our transgressions is often needed before fellowship with God is sweet.
Remind your people that Christ’s peace is not what the world is offering, as if trying to put a Band-Aid on a gaping wound (John 14:27). Soul rest is not going to be found in wishing for things to go back to normal but only at the feet of Christ. Making sense of this chaos will not happen by sharing your opinion or complaining to others. That dread, that confusion, that low grade angst is quelled by expressing our confusion, frustrations, and fears directly to the Lord like a modern-day psalmist (Ps 40:1-3).