With the arrival of Hillsong Young and Free's new album, III, we're getting a refresh of their hit single from last winter, Peace. So far, Amanda Cook has led the song in Bethel's school of worship, and the words, prayers, and lyrics that went into the song speaks to something deeply rooted in this generation:
As the words of the song go, "There's a peace far beyond all understanding // May it ever set my heart at ease // What anxiety fails to remember is peace is a promise You keep." This is a direct reference to Philippians 4:7 that says "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (ESV). In Psalm 29:11, there is a promise of peace saying, "The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace." Isaiah 54:10 asserts this, "'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the LORD, who has compassion on you."
It's easy to read these words and think that it's cool that God promises peace, but what does peace actually look like in our daily lives? We often define peace by how we've watched other people experience peace. A friend of mine wakes up at 6 in the morning every day to pray. Another friend keeps and tends to house plants- and as she waters each one, she prays for her friends who don't know Christ yet to come to know Him. It's easy to envision peace as this quiet, still, calming time with coffee and plants and worship music playing in the background. Which totally can happen, and it's crucial to cut out time in your day to have quiet moments to listen to God and his Word. But where do you find peace when anxiety strikes?
Anxiety can come in a variety of moments. For me, I could be in transit in a loud subway car, I could be at work with a large list of tasks in front of me, I could be on the phone having a difficult conversation with someone I care about. I need peace most in the moments that are loud, the moments that cloud my thoughts, the moments that are hectic and complex. When the heart rate quickens, when the breathing gets constricted, when thoughts blend and blur together like slop, God promises peace.
What anxiety fails to remember is that peace is Jesus. He is the Prince of Peace. Anxiety fails to acknowledge that Jesus wins every war our thoughts may wage. If Jesus is around us, so is peace- right in reach, a breath away. It's not about earning or acquiring an emotion of what we perceive peace to be, but just accepting that "Jesus is here. Jesus is peace." We wrap up the concept of peace to be an emotion of calm, but more realistically, peace is an "I know that I know" truth that if Jesus is near, so is peace. And that peace was created for us.
Anxiety's hands are trying to grip the throat of our generation- trying to cut off our breath. We all know a friend or relative who battles intense moments of anxiety. Maybe you deeply know the daily struggle of keeping that kind of breathlessness at bay. There are ways to fight this battle- with counseling, with a support system, with Jesus. When the mind is under siege, peace is a promise God keeps. He won't let you down. He is not far off- He is so close to you, waiting for you to just reach out to the peace He holds with an open hand. All you have to do is reach out.