“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
These are Jesus’ words on the night of Passover, the night he washes the disciples’ feet, the night he is betrayed. He is about to face arrest, torture, mocking, false accusations and conviction, culminating in his crucifixion.
He leaves the disciples with peace.
When soldiers come for Jesus, his best friends run away, hide, deny that they even know him.
Where did that peace he left for them go?
Besides Mary and John, staying beside him as he died on the cross, the other disciples are inside in hiding. They are terrified that they are next up for public execution.
Aren’t these the guys with him when he fed five thousand men with two loaves of bread and five fish? Didn’t one of them walk on water? Weren’t these the same guys who went out in groups of twos healing the sick and proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven near at hand?
Now they are afraid. Now everything feels like it is upside down and everything they knew before was called into question.
The guy they’ve been following around is now wanted by the state. How could the Son of God die? Was everything they believed wrong?
Jesus didn’t leave them empty-handed. He left them with peace. He left them with the Holy Spirit.
I find the phrase “Not as the world gives do I give to you,” as very interesting. When God gives you peace it is internal and it will affect everything else around you. How you see the world, how you see your situation, what you will do despite what others may think or say.
The peace of this world is temporary and fleeting. It only affects your external world. You may have a new house that gives you peace or a new car, or a new job. It may be that night out with friends to a ballgame or a club where you forget your problems. It might even be something to numb the pain for a few hours.
But the drugs wear off, the game ends, your car breaks down, your house needs repairs, your job gets boring… these are all temporary.
Jesus’ peace is not. It is found in trusting what God says to you and about your situation. When you choose to trust what He says, you receive His peace. Over time as you trust His words and see them come to pass, your peace grows.
The disciples didn’t have peace because they abandoned trust in Jesus and took things into their own hands. They succumbed to fear and trusted its voice instead of his voice.
When you trust fear instead of Jesus, your heart, your whole system becomes deeply troubled. Anxiety is a powerful and debilitating emotion. It can feel like you are having a heart attack and can even cause an arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) that can last for hours until the anxiety subsides.
It can make you feel paralyzed and want to run and hide. It can make you do things you later regret.
Save yourself the heartache (literally) and get God’s opinion and direction for your situation. He may ask you to make tough decisions and let go of habits or relationships that you have clung to for a long time. I get it. That is a hard pill to swallow. But you aren’t doing it alone. The verse prior to this, Jesus describes the Helper, the Holy Spirit who is with you.
If God is asking you to trust Him by stepping into something that you don’t understand, don’t trust fear and refuse to walk the path He is leading you on. Trust the one who has given you true peace.
Each big decision starts with one step toward God. Each step after that gets easier. The peace of God will follow you.