Many thanks to those who have prayed for and left comments for Nanci and me after I shared about her then upcoming CT scan, which was done last Monday. At the follow up appointments, we received some challenging news about the results. Two different surgeons believe Nanci's cancer, which they saw no more sign of until recently, has spread to her lungs. (The suspicious spots can't be easily biopsied because they are too deep, and will need to be removed with surgery, and Nanci will probably need to go through more chemotherapy as well. You can read the full update on her CaringBridge page.)
While Nanci and I are disappointed, of course, we had talked beforehand and were prepared to accept this from the hand of a sovereign and loving God. God is in control, and we really are at peace. We’re fully trusting the One who said, “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).
Nanci and I have both found that great peace comes in meditating on the attributes of our God and His care for us. Puritan Thomas Watson noted, “God the Father is called the ‘God of peace’ (Hebrews 13:20). God the Son, the ‘Prince of peace’ (Isaiah 9:6). God the Holy Ghost, the ‘Spirit…of peace’ (Ephesians 4:3).” It’s really true that “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace” (Psalm 29:11, NIV).
A dear friend recently shared with us this excerpt from Paul David Tripp’s New Morning Mercies. Paul’s words about how we can find peace really resonated with both Nanci and me. These thoughts have been great for us right now, and are great for everyone facing challenging and uncertain circumstances:
Biblical literacy does not dispel all confusion and mystery from your life because while God reveals his will for you in the Bible, he does not reveal all the things he will do in your life for your good and his glory. God surprises you.
So you ask, “Where is peace to be found?” This question is answered clearly and powerfully in Isaiah 26:
You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. (vv. 3-4)
This passage tells us where peace is found. It is never found in trying to figure out the secret will of God. It’s not to be found in personal planning or attempts to control the circumstances and people in your life. Peace is found in trusting the person who controls all the things that you don’t understand and who knows no mystery because he has planned it all. How do you experience this remarkable peace—the kind of peace that doesn’t fade away when disappointments come, when people are difficult, or when circumstances are hard? You experience it by keeping your mind stayed on the Lord. The more you meditate on his glory, his power, his wisdom, his grace, his faithfulness, his righteousness, his patience, his zeal to redeem, and his commitment to his eternal promises to you, the more you can deal with mystery in your life. Why? Because you know the One behind the mystery is gloriously good, worthy not only of your trust but also the worship of your heart. It really is true that peace in times of trouble is not found in figuring out your life, but in worship of the One who has everything figured out already.
Here are some more reflections from other Jesus followers about the peace Christ offers us:
“I know, perhaps as well as anyone, what depression means, and what it is to feel myself sinking lower and lower. Yet at the worst, when I reach the lowest depths, I have an inward peace which no pain or depression can in the least disturb. Trusting in Jesus Christ my Savior, there is still a blessed quietness in the deep caverns of my soul.” —Charles Spurgeon
“Just think: Every promise God has ever made finds its fulfillment in Jesus. God doesn’t just give us grace; he gives us Jesus, the Lord of grace. If it’s peace, it’s only found in Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Even life itself is found in the Resurrection and the Life. Christianity isn’t all that complicated…it’s Jesus.” —Joni Eareckson Tada
“There is no true or solid peace to be enjoyed in the world except in the way of reposing upon the promises of God.” —John Calvin
“All your security, freedom, rest, peace, and happiness consist in the goodness and love of your Maker towards you.” —Wilhelmus à Brakel
“Peace is not the absence of trouble but the presence of Christ.” —Sheila Walsh
“Our Lord says to you, ‘Peace, child, peace. Relax. Let go. I will catch you. Do you trust me so little?’” —C. S. Lewis
“Jesus was napping in a boat when a storm came. Jesus’ friends, the disciples, woke him because they were terrified… Then Jesus looked out at the storm and said, ‘Peace, be still.’ And it was. …He didn’t say, ‘If you follow me, you’ll never have problems,’ because even Jesus faced big problems. …Jesus was always getting himself into trouble. Eventually he got killed. Peace doesn’t come from finding a lake with no storms. It comes from having Jesus in the boat.” —John Ortberg