Years ago I worked with a chaplain who would frequently tell me, “Don’t lose your peace.” This chaplain was an Irish Catholic nun who had one of the most beautiful personalities you would ever meet. She was older, close to retirement at the time, and her wisdom was refreshing to our pastoral care team at this hospital.
Her statement, “Don’t lose your peace” was something she would often say after conversations of debriefing sad patient circumstances that I had recently dealt with. It was like a closing statement to those conversations that meant, Don’t let the sorrow stay with you and steal your own personal peace.
As a chaplain, some things stick with you longer than others but it isn’t healthy for us to allow the sorrow and suffering of others to continue to bother or depress us personally. That would mean that we would be carrying the pain of others to our friends and family and spreading it around, which is not healthy for a caregiver. Instead, we learn to process those sorrows and not lose our peace.
Whoever you are and whatever sorrow you may face, it is important that you don’t lose your peace either. In the words of Solomon, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:…A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4).
There are moments in life that bring about emotional turbulence and disrupt our otherwise peaceful day. Peace can escape us with a phone call or a letter that delivers bad news, a doctor’s visit that announces an unexpected medical problem, or a knock on the door by a state highway trooper giving news of a loved one’s auto accident.
Life, this side of Heaven, has its share of sadness and offers plenty of opportunities to experience grief. However, the key to maintaining sanity is not to let sadness and grief become a permanent part of your daily life. In short, don’t lose your peace.
In fact, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” and He also said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace” (John 16:33 NIV). If I was to paraphrase what Jesus spoke here, I might put it this way: Don’t be surprised about being troubled from circumstances of life, but instead keep Christ in your life so you don’t lose your peace. Peace comes from Jesus, “The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
We all will have to make the choice to either dwell on negativity of our trials or dwell on the positive aspects of hope for our future. We’ll never escape the negativity of our trials if allow that to consume our every thought. We’ll never know peace if we focus on the sorrow, the suffering, and the adverse impact the trial has on our life.
I’m not saying that we should ignore the reality of a situation that stifles our peace, but we ought not allow it to become our permanent identity. It may take days or even months of fighting difficult emotions because of the circumstances, but at some point we must regain our peace.
There is a verse in Isaiah 26:3 that says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”
There is a verse in Hebrews 12:2 that says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
There is a verse in Romans 12:2 that says, “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
There is a verse in Philippians 4:8 that says, “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
In the gospel of Matthew there is an account of Jesus walking on the lake toward the disciples who were in a boat while a storm blew around them. Peter saw Jesus and asked if he could walk out to Him. “Come, he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:29-30).
I mention this story of Peter walking out on the water because its lesson is that as long as he was fixing his sight on Jesus, he was fine. It wasn’t until Peter turned from Jesus to the storm that he sank. The lesson is Keep your eyes on Jesus, but if you find yourself sinking, cry out “Lord, save me!” just as Peter did.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, and don’t lose your peace.