Facing the "What Ifs" With Courage
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27 (NIV)
Once a year I sit in the same waiting room. They've valiantly attempted to make it lighthearted and cheerful. But it's hard to do when every woman there knows life could change based on the results of her testing.
Despite the smile on my face as I check in, questions swirl. What if they see something worrisome? What if they call me back for more tests? What if this year it's not normal? What if?
I'm no stranger to the call-backs. And each time it happens they tell me the same thing: You are lumpy, bumpy and your kids say you are grumpy. Or something like that. But what if that doesn't happen this year? Now that breast cancer is in my family history, the "what ifs" loom larger.
Thankfully this isn't my first rodeo—I've dealt with fear in the past. In fact, at times I've been consumed with worry, unable to eat or sleep. A health scare a few years ago sent me into a tailspin of anxiety. Fear tried to debilitate me and it almost won. I had to admit that I couldn't manage the fear on my own. My human attempts at overcoming fear were weak; I couldn't think or reason myself out of the fear.
Fear isn't always logical. If it were, I could spout statistics and they would bring me peace as I wait for answers. Or, I could gain comfort from assurances spoken by well-meaning friends that "nothing will happen."
But deep in my heart, I know there's no promise I'll be free from trouble in this life. In fact, I'm usually either getting out of trouble, currently in trouble, or about to meet trouble around the next corner.
Thankfully, Jesus was waiting all that time for me to relinquish my feeble and ineffective attempts at finding peace. As I gave up my grasping attempts at control, He stepped in to the space between my heart and the lies, and wedged His truth there.
I was trying to find my own path to peace, when it was His I needed all the time.
Jesus made this promise in today's key verse: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27). This is the same peace the Bible describes as passing all understanding. (Phil. 4:7)
I've learned that peace and courage manifested in my own strength will NOT stand testing. My peace is determined on circumstances. It's determined by my ability to control the situation. With my peace, there's always that little voice saying, but what if?
Jesus' peace, however, silences that doubting voice. That voice knows the response it will get. I'll be her peace, Jesus replies for me.
I'm now better armed to face the "what ifs" of life. Instead of focusing on what I don't know, I focus on what I do know. Above all, I know Jesus' peace will be with me. The storms may come, the waters will rise, but I can have peace. This is a promise from One who has never lied.
I may not know the future, but I'm clinging to the One who does; the One who is prepared to face what may come. I'm confident Jesus will not abandon me, He still works miracles, and will make sure that I'm cared for. That's what I know.
I still have worries and concerns that pop up; it would be false to imply otherwise. Yet, they don't dominate me. When I feel them starting to crowd their way in, I stop and pray: Jesus, I need Your peace. Mine's not working again.
Dear Lord, even You said there would be trouble in this world. You see the trouble I'm facing and You see how fear is threatening to overwhelm. Even in the midst of my storm, I know You have the power to bring me peace. I ask right now for Your peace to flood my heart. Only with Your peace can I face the future with confidence. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Make a list of the benefits of having Jesus' peace in your heart. If you need to experience that peace, stop and ask Jesus for it now.
How is the world's peace different from the peace Jesus offers?
In the face of "unknowns," what are some things I know for sure about God?
John 16:33, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (NIV)
Romans 8:6, "The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace." (NIV)
Ephesians 6:14-15, "Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." (NIV)