by Gretchen Fleming
“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 NIV
I remember well the angst I felt. I would have never before described myself as anxious, but this was becoming my new norm.
The on-going struggles of our family were taking their toll on me. My way of coping seemed to be rooted in my effort to keep the peace for everyone . I was spending my energy trying to foresee issues coming our way in order to solve them beforehand. Or I would tackle any problems that reached us with ferocity, trying my best to fix everything…….and everyone.
As learning issues and teenage rebellion gripped two of our children, my response was to control life as much as possible. Yet, I did not realize how I was on a mission of futility, while exhausting myself in the process.
One day as I was reading about the disciples straining against the oars when the wind and the waves were against them (Matthew 14:22-33), Jesus showed me my foolishness. I saw myself in the boat, trying to navigate on behalf of my family. Problems were representative by the wind and waves. I was the one at the oars trying desperately to steer clear of any trouble coming against us.
Have you ever visited the beach on a calm day, when there are very few waves? It is a beautiful scene in all its tranquility, but is it the norm? Absolutely not!
Jesus taught me that what I was trying to do should not be my goal. Just as calm waters on the sea are an exception to the rule, days of tranquility where there are no issues or trouble are just as rare. They should not be considered the norm, nor sought after diligently, because what I was doing was fighting against the inevitable.
Jesus reminds us that in this world, we will have trouble. So why was I trying to live contrary to this reality?!
He showed me that not only were my expectations unrealistic, my goal for peace was misplaced. I was never meant to attain peace by preventing and solving all problems. Peace through suitable circumstances was always going to be conditional.
Jesus teaches that “in Him” we would have peace. What does that mean?
As I studied further, looking intently at the life of Jesus, I learned that by following His example as He approached life with all its messiness, I too could feel sustaining peace. He exampled trusting the Father with all circumstances, resting in His sovereignty. He also showed that communing often and regularly with the Father enabled the peace to be consistent. Finally, submitting to God, deferring to HIS final authority and will in ALL situations, was evidenced in the life of Christ.
In all three of these practices, I could learn how to cease striving after the calm waters and learn how to live a calm life, in spite of the wind and the waves. Just as Peter was able to walk on the waves as he kept his eyes on Jesus, I too could learn to overcome what seemed like uncontrollable, stressful circumstances.
Storms may rage and waves may threaten, yet peace can steadfastly remain by rising above the chaos through trusting, communing and submitting to the Father. There is power in Christ’s peace, and it can sustain through the fiercest of storms! Problems and issues can be weathered and not feared.
Real peace is not found through calm days, but in a life followed and fixated on Christ.
Rooted in the peace of Christ, we are able to rise above what seeks to disturb our hearts, and just as Christ overcame, so can we!
Dearest Father, open our eyes to any goals we are wrongly pursuing. May we look to Christ and the peace He lived out before all men, to learn how to overcome whatever comes our way. Remind us that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.
As a wife (28 years) and mother (24 years), Gretchen’s life has taught her many lessons. Through personal and family challenges, she has experienced breaking points and had to fight hard to stand firm in her faith through God’s sustaining grace.
Her passion is to follow hard after Jesus, knowing He is the treasure of a lifetime and worth every minute she commits to Him. God’s Word has been life-giving through the most trying times for her—a great source of strength, wisdom, and truth. It is her heartfelt desire to encourage women in their faith with the hope she has found in His Word.
Gretchen is a Bible teacher, speaker, and writer who loves to see Jesus change lives as He’s changed hers. It’s a joy for her to share with others the Truth that can give perspective and perseverance, no matter what we face.
Join her community at gretchenfleming.com for her blog and Bible study.
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