I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
A few years ago, I decided it would be fun to play the game "Chutes and Ladders" with my three kids. We set up the board game, pulled out the pieces, and rolled the dice to see who would go first. The game is a board filled with slides and ladders. When you land on a slide, you go backward. And when you happen to fall on a ladder, you take it to a space closer to the finish line. The kids were having a blast as they watched their dad consistently hit every slide possible. They hit the slides as well but always seemed to be inching towards the space to win much faster than me. Finally, just before my kids were about to win, I caught a ladder to the top of the board and won the game. Our peace, fun, and happiness quickly turned to conflict. My kids started crying, they threw their pieces, and one of them quickly folded up the board in protest. How did the mood change so quickly? It was because my kids didn't get what they wanted, and they were angry with their dad.
Like a fragile board game with children, peace is often an elusive concept. We experience it for a time, but it is often temporary, dependent upon our circumstances. We feel it when our house is neat and organized, when our relationships at work are settled, and when our families get along perfectly. All those things can seem to be impossible to attain all at once with the demands of real life. Peace will come at times after we rest and are still, but as soon as our environment or external circumstances are rocked, we tend to have to feel like we are slipping down a slide to square one.
Paul knew that peace would be hard to attain, so he prayed for the church to be filled with joy and peace through trusting in the source of all hope. He knew that if we realigned our focus on Jesus, the One who gave us eternal life, it would serve to transform our outlook on life. Unfortunately, we have a hard time keeping our focus aligned on Jesus. When we lose our focus, we can become like a temperamental child who gets nervous about not getting our own way. Our peace will quickly unravel as we lose our grip. This is why we are encouraged to fit our feet with the gospel of peace. Paul knew that we would get traction and be undeterred by the evil one when we put on peace. By pursuing peace no matter the circumstances, we allow Jesus to rule our hearts.
The opposite of peace is to be at war. When you think of your own life right now, what are some areas that are at peace? What are some areas that are at war? Make a list of the areas that are at rest and the ones that are in conflict. Work through those lists so you can then ask for God's help to calm your storms.
Read John 16:16-33 (NLT)
“In a little while you won’t see me anymore. But a little while after that, you will see me again.”
Some of the disciples asked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? And what does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand.”
Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again. I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.
“I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.”
Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.”
Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
©2022 Sagebrush Church