You may have come to this article wondering, “Where can I personally find peace?” If by that you mean “How can I get bad crap to stop happening in my life,” unfortunately, the answer is “Nowhere.” Nobody’s found a pause button for life yet. If you do find it, let us know! We’d like to use it too.
But maybe you don’t mean that. Instead you mean, “How can I continue to live my life and still find rest, quiet, life in spite of all the bad stuff that’s going down?” That question actually has an answer.
A lot of people rely on drugs and mood changers like Xanax or alcohol. These things have their place (a very carefully controlled place!) but they’re temporary fixes. As soon as they wear off, it’s back to the stress again. And since almost all of them are addictive, you can’t use them nonstop without screwing up your life.
Some people swear by meditation. Others are into mindfulness practices. Some do nutritional supplements, some carry worry stones, some just scream into their pillows. There are almost as many answers to “How do I find peace?” as there are people.
The Christian answer is more difficult, but also maybe more hopeful. We say that peace is found in a person—specifically, in Jesus Christ. After all, he taught us to think of him this way. He’s the one who said, “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.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
It’s real clear from the rest of what he said that he did not mean “I will take away all your problems and make your life smooth and easy.” (We wish!) Jesus warned his followers that they would be rejected on account of him, would face conflict in their families and trouble from authorities, and all this on top of the ordinary problems of every day life—things like sickness, loss, grief, and death. Seems like a pretty sober assessment by Jesus.
And yet just hours before his death, Jesus was able to say to his followers, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid,” (John 14:27). How exactly does the world give peace? See the partial list above—techniques (or chemicals) that create a temporary respite from all the bad of life. Jesus claims to give peace in a different way: he isn’t recommending a technique or chemical, rather he says he’ll give his followers “his peace”.
Jesus claims to possess peace in a way that can actually be transferred to others. There is clearly mystery involved here (how do you transfer peace?), but Christians all down through the centuries have claimed to actually experience it. Paul, an early follower of Jesus, described it as the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” which has the power to “guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
As the author of this article, I’m going to describe what it feels like for me from the inside, so to speak. Feel free to think I’m crazy! But to me, it feels like having a solid floor under my feet. My life may be going nuts, it may feel like there is a flood of horrible things happening all at once, and yes, I may need to go scream into that pillow. But ultimately, I’m not by myself trying to deal with all of this. I have someone who cares about me on my side, who is helping me pull through. Not without a lot of pain and frustration and even fear, but I have that strong presence with me, that foundation under my feet, this peace that “surpasses all understanding”. And I know that once the flood of horrible stuff ebbs out, I’ll still be there—because Jesus is still there, and he’s got hold of me.
This is nothing special to me. I was not always a Christian believer. But in the years since I came to know Jesus Christ, I’ve had to deal with sickness and disability, life in the slums, the constant yammering of people dependent on me, fighting and discord and things that nearly destroyed my marriage and my health. And yet I’m still here. Not because I’m strong, but because Jesus has hold of me. He has given me his peace.
It turns out one of Jesus’ most common greetings after he was raised from the dead was “Peace be to you!” He said that not as token words of well-wishing, but almost as an offer. As if, having defeated death (the biggest, baddest thing all of), he was uniquely positioned to bestow real peace on others. And in fact, that’s what he claimed. As he put it, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
To this day, Christians call Jesus the “Prince of Peace” and believe that Jesus is still making that same offer (Peace be to you!) to everyone he encounters. This is why anyone who asks a Christian “Where can I personally find peace?” will likely get pointed to Jesus himself.