If you had to choose between happiness or peace, which would you choose? Some might say that that these terms are synonymous, but they truly are not.
Happiness – the state of being happy. What does it mean to be happy? Does it last? The word “happy” means to feel pleasure or contentment. Synonyms include cheerful, cheery, merry, joyful, jolly, joking, gleeful, satisfied, elated, good-humored, exhilarated, in a good mood, thrilled, and carefree.
Our language also contains many expressions or idioms for being happy, such as “tickled pink,” “tickled to death,” “over the moon,” “on cloud nine,” “beside oneself,” “on top of the world,” “in seventh heaven,” “like a dog with two tails,” and “pleased as punch.”
There is no doubt that every person seeks happiness. Being happy feels great. Also, happiness is one of our given rights, at least in this country. The United States Declaration of Independence states:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
If the Declaration of Independence says that we have the right to pursue happiness, then being happy must be a good thing, right?
Yes and no. Unfortunately, some (possibly many) people have an unrealistic view of happiness which can lead to disappointment, feelings of depression and loss, and even anger and bitterness. When happiness becomes an obsession or an overriding goal in life, unhappiness results. A life aimed at fulfilling one’s own personal happiness is also a sign of selfishness and can result in doing evil, according to the Bible. The truth is that no one is always happy. The realities of the world in which we live can be harsh, unkind, cruel, unfair, and full of suffering. Needless to say, happiness is not an end result of living in our present ungodly world.
Psalm 37:4 states, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Unfortunately, many people misinterpret this verse. If you believe that if you ask God for something, he is going to give you whatever you want to make you happy, you are incorrect. God never promised that we will always be happy. John 13:33 says, “In this world you will have trouble.” The Bible also states,
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.John 8:18
As a matter of fact, many of God’s promises to his children deal with how he will be with us in our trials, tribulations and suffering. Realistically speaking, suffering is just part of our world, whether we are believers or not. There are actually many verses in the Bible which warn that all of humankind will face trials and tribulations.
From personal experience, I have discovered that seeking peace over happiness is a much more worthy and attainable goal. The giddy, elated feelings of happiness come and go; peace can be felt daily, throughout the good and the bad of life. I struggled with depression for countless years because I felt a great deal of unhappiness. I could not find joy in my circumstances.
Thankfully, once I began to truly commit myself to the Lord, I began to feel a special kind of peace. It was a peace that had nothing to do with whether I was having a good day or a bad day. Since then, this awesome sense of peace has transformed me. When something unpleasant or difficult comes up, I am more able to react in a calm manner. In addition, I am able to put the situation into perspective, realizing that I have already overcome so much, so I will overcome this too. More importantly, I am confident in the fact that God not only loves me, but is always with me.
The peace to which I refer is not the peace of the world. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines peace as:
- a state of tranquility or quiet as in freedom from civil disturbance or a state of security within a community.
- freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.
- harmony in personal relations.
These emotions or states of being are not achievable on a daily basis. What CAN be attained is called inner peace, which comes ONLY from God. Inner peace is a feeling of tranquility or calmness, even when confronted with all sorts of stressors. Even when everything around us is in chaos or we are in the midst of trials, tribulations, or temptations, this peace helps us through these times. The kind of peace I am describing comes from an inner knowledge that God is in control, and that he alone will get us through the storms of life. Because this peace is from God, it is given to us supernaturally. Only a believer, who has the Holy Spirit within him or her, is able to attain this inner peace.
What the Bible Says about Peace
First of all, I would like to go back to John 16:33. In my previous reference to this verse, I only used a portion of it. Here is the complete verse:
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.John 16:33
Earlier, only the negative part of this verse was pointed out: “In this world, you will have trouble.” I doubt that anyone – at least if they are being honest – would disagree with this statement. But truthfully, taken in its entirety, this verse is a promise from God. The speaker is Jesus, and he is speaking to his twelve disciples. He knows that the time for his death and resurrection are very near. As a result, Jesus is trying to prepare his disciples for life after he is no longer there to help them. Jesus loves his disciples enough to be totally honest when he tells the twelve men that their lives will not be without trouble.
However, Jesus is not trying to put fear into the hearts of his followers. He has foreknowledge of all the persecution and suffering these men will go through because of their love for him. Jesus warns his disciples:
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world…If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.John 15:18-20
Therefore, Jesus wants to leave his disciples with words of wisdom, encouragement and hope. Not only does Jesus wants them to be prepared for what will happen, but he also wants to remind them of all he has already told them:
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many room; if it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and will take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going,John 14: 1-4
This promise to the disciples is also meant for every person who believes that Jesus is not only the Son of God, but also that he is our Lord and Savior. He will return for us, and we will live with him forever in heaven.
In addition, Jesus also promises his followers (and all believers) that he will not leave them alone to suffer. Jesus tells them of the Advocate, “whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me” (John 16:26). In other words, God will send the Holy Spirit of Jesus to be with his disciples (and again, all future believers). Even more, Jesus gives his followers this comforting assurance:
I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.John 16:12-1
In another significant Bible verse, Jesus not only promises to give his disciples peace, but he also tells them how this peace can be attained:
Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The LORD is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.Philippians 4:4-7
Please remember, everything Jesus promises to his disciples is also a promise to ALL believers who will live after these early believers. Also, the kind of peace that would get the disciples (and all future believers) through the worst life has to offer is ONLY FROM GOD. There is no how-to manual written by a human for finding continual, abiding peace in this world. The real how-to manual was written by God himself (through the writings of chosen men). This manual is the Bible, God’s Holy Word. Just to summarize, peace can ONLY be found by giving our complete ALL to God and doing the following:
- Trust in God by not allowing yourself to become worried or anxious about anything.
- Pray and petition God unceasingly rather than try to deal with your problems on your own.
- Give thanks to God for all he has done for you – creating you, loving you, sending his Son to die for your sins, sending the Holy Spirit to guide and encourage you, and ALL the other many ways he has blessed you.
- Present your EVERY request to God, no matter what it is, trusting that God will answer in a way that accomplishes his will for your life.
I have faced so much turmoil in my life. How I wish I would have truly understood how to go about attaining peace many years ago! I would read about peace in the Bible, but it just didn’t click. I didn’t think peace was meant for me. But it was meant for me; it was meant for all those who love the Lord their God and Jesus Christ their Savior with ALL of their hearts, souls, minds, and strength.
Outside of salvation itself, peace is one of the most awesome blessings that God can give to us! My life has absolutely been transformed by my willingness to finally die to self daily and to TRUST GOD in EVERYTHING. I have learned the hard way that it is not enough to just be a believer or say, “I am a Christian.” It is only by becoming the person that God purposes each of us to be that we can receive ALL that he promises. The by-product of committing myself to doing these things faithfully has resulted in God giving me a peace “which transcends all understanding.” I hope that you too will seek this kind of peace. It will change your life tremendously!
My Definition of Peace
This morning I got up just thinking about everything that gives me joy, contentment, and daily peace to withstand all the trials and tribulations of life. Besides the love of God in his Three Persons, two other things that give me the most joy and contentment are the beauty of God’s world, as seen through nature, and my relationship with loved ones and other Christians. I would like to share my reflections with you.
- Joy in my salvation.
- Pleasure in the beauty of nature.
- Satisfaction in the knowledge that I am a member of an awesome church and community of believers.
- Blessings from the gift of motherhood.
- Contentment in the life I have been given.
- Gratification that I am now in God’s will.
- Thrill in the knowledge that I have been transformed into a new person.
- Happiness that I do not have to depend on myself or any other human for anything.
- Exhilaration at the thought of spending eternity in heaven.
- Elation that my sins have been forgiven.
- Humility in the knowledge that God has given me the gifts of writing and teaching so that I may glorify his Name.
- Mercy for forgiveness of all my sins, even though I was not deserving of that mercy.
- Grace in the unmerited favor of having been chosen to be part of God’s family.
- Hope of a life without sin.
- Assurance that comes from all of God’s many promises to his children.
- Calmness in the knowledge that God is always with me, even when it doesn’t feel that way.
- Courage in the knowledge that when I take my last breath, an angel of the Lord will take me to heaven.
Peace Looks Like…
- a parade of big puffy clouds floating lazily above.
- vibrant colors of red, yellow, and orange, which awaken my spirit.
- cool colors of blue and green which calm my spirit.
- the colors of fall, orange pumpkins, and falling leaves in shades of green, brown, red, orange and yellow.
- the grayness of a cloudy day.
- a rainbow after a storm.
- a bright, sunny day.
- the beauty of the changing seasons.
- a mother kissing her child.
- an outdoors picnic on a spring day.
- a new pack of crayons.
- bright blue cloudless skies.
- a full moon shining brightly in the dark.
- the gentle swaying of leaves on trees and bushes.
- my dog sitting in the sun.
- the pure white of a new snow.
- the greenery and vibrant colors of spring.
- sparkling clear blue and turquoise Caribbean waters.
- snow-capped mountains.
- morning dew.
- the serenity of my bedroom.
- the calmness of a still stream.
- a well-worn Bible.
- birds and squirrels going to and fro in my backyard oblivious to any cares or concerns.
- a plate of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas, reminding me of my grandparents.
- my grandsons with ice cream on their faces.
- family photos.
- the view of nature from my kitchen window.
- the growing plants on my windowsill.
- a childhood memory of shelling peas with my beloved grandmother.
Peace Smells Like…
- cotton candy.
- the air after a rainfall.
- freshly cut hay.
- sweat from a long day of working in the fields.
- a new car.
- the saltiness of an ocean.
- peppermint candy.
- freshly cut grass.
- a newly bathed baby.
- clothes coming right out of the dryer.
- pizza baking in an oven.
- oranges and strawberries.
- baby powder.
- swimming pools.
- the smell of fall and winter – cinnamon, cloves, spice, hot chocolate, scented pine cones, chili, and baking pies.
- the brilliant colors of the sun going down over water.
Peace Tastes Like…
- watermelon on a hot summer day.
- cheesy macaroni and cheese.
- my grandmother’s homemade coconut or lemon meringue pie.
- freshly baked bread.
- hot apple pie topped with vanilla ice cream.
- pecan praline ice cream.
- biscuits and gravy.
- chocolate molten cake.
- strawberries and blueberries in season.
- peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
- hot chocolate and marshmallows.
Peace Sounds Like
- the roar of the wind on a very windy and blustery day.
- the muted sounds of travel coming from a nearby highway.
- the gentle lapping of water.
- the pounding of the waves on the shore.
- the whirring of an electric fan.
- the distant sounds of a train at night.
- the gentle whisper of the wind in the trees.
- a laughing child.
- the quietness of silence.
- the crackling of a fire.
- chirping birds.
- a favorite song.
- turning pages of a book.
- the murmur of distant voices.
- the steady beat of a calm heart.
- the tick tock of a clock.
- the Holy Spirit speaking to me.
Peace Feels Like
- a gentle wind’s kiss on my face.
- a sleeping child’s breath on my hand.
- the touch of a warm sun on a cold day.
- the crisp bite of cold in the air.
- a long, lavender-scented warm bath.
- snuggling under warm blankets.
- the intense heat of a fire.
- the coolness of rain hitting my face.
- a strong wind pushing me forward.
- soft baby kisses.
- pulling off dry glue on my palm.
- holding hands.
- a hug.
- the drops of water hitting my body while showering.
- lying in cool green grass on a warm day.
Peace Is Knowing That…
- God will never forsake me or stop loving me.
- God is in control.
- God will get justice for all wrongdoings.
- Jesus loved me enough to die for my sins.
- God has a master plan not only for me but the entire world.
- Jesus sent his Holy Spirit to counsel, comfort, encourage, discipline, and teach me.
- God keeps his promises to his children.
- I will someday be in heaven with Jesus and God.
- Jesus is coming back for me.
- I will someday have a new body and live in a place where there is no suffering or pain.
- I was made in the image of God.
- I was created to be loved by God.
- I am enough as I am, and I am made worthy and righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ.
- God shows no favoritism.
- Jesus wants to take all of my burdens.
- Going through trials and tribulations is for my good.
- I am never alone, even when there is no one around me.
- There is no fear in death.
- God will supply all my needs.
- God’s grace is sufficient for me, and I do not have to be perfect to be used for his glory.
- God has provided me with the perfect book for godly living – the Bible.
- It is okay that I do not understand all of God’s way; I just need to have faith and trust in him, acknowledge his sovereignty and show him reverence through obedience.
- God loves my family and will take care of them also.
- Satan will once and all be defeated by the King of Kings, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
Some Suggestions If You Do Not Have a Personal Relationship with God or Jesus
If you do not feel this sense of inner peace because you do not have a relationship with God or Jesus, here are some suggestions which might get you help tremendously:
- Read an excellent article called “Plan of Salvation.” Just click on the link. The article explains everything any person needs to know regarding the need for salvation.
- If you believe you are ready after reading “Plan of Salvation,” find the section towards the bottom that asks, “Are you ready to accept the gift of eternal life that Jesus is offering you right now?” and follow the suggestions for praying for salvation.
- IF you do pray to Jesus for salvation, tell other people because we are commanded to confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and Savior. Then, start attending a church and get involved.
- If you are NOT ready or need to talk to someone before making this commitment, you can do any of the following suggestions.
- Read the article “The Plan for Salvation” for another perspective.
- Pray to God and tell him that you genuinely want to know him. Ask him to show you how to do this or lead you to someone who can help you. Even if your prayer is short, just be honest with God. He already knows what you are thinking. It is NOT so much what you say BUT the sincerity and attitude of your heart.
- Ask God to convict you of your sins and help you to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he is the ONLY way that we may get to heaven and see God.
- Attend church services at a local church . If you know someone who goes to church, either ask to go with him or her or arrange to meet that person there.
- Call the church office and tell the receptionist you need to talk to someone about becoming a Christian. Every church has numerous people willing and able to talk to you about Jesus and salvation.
- Talk to Christian family, friends or acquaintances who seem to have the peace you are lacking.
- Ask Christian family, friends and acquaintances to pray for you.
- Find a Bible (or bring it up on your phone or computer) and start by reading Genesis 1- 5, and then at least one of the four gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – which all, to varying degrees of detail, record the details of the life of Jesus. Next, read Ephesians and Philippians, and then the other books of the Old Testament.
These are just a few suggestions to help you on your journey. They are not necessarily in any order of importance. Go with what makes you most comfortable. There are many people who would GLADLY help you in any way possible to become a child of God.
I assure you that the effort will be life-changing beyond your wildest imagination.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.Philippians 1:2