How to Find Peace in a Crazy World


We live in a hectic world. A friend of mine once quipped, “I’m in this world’s way.” His point was that drivers were always in a hurry cutting him off in traffic, zig-zagging past car after car to get somewhere fast. Once at work, his colleagues constantly one-upped him in their vain efforts to get noticed. His experience is not unique. Most of us who commute to work each morning can sympathize with his feelings.

Added to the chaos of our morning commute is the constant feed of Tweets, Updates, Stories, and Alerts.  Life—like the people living it—gets crazy. Neither FOX nor CNN can help. They’re in a constant cycle of one over-hyped political crisis after another: Democrats against Republicans; Liberals against Conservatives; Far Right against the Far Left; each group increasing the tension.

The world itself is filled with the ongoing anxiety of hate and terror. There are wars and Blog Be Still.pngrumors of wars from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

No wonder anxiety appears to be snowballing in the U.S.

As crazy as life gets “out there,” the real truth is that life is even more intense on the inside. Typically, our anxiety levels increase most as a result of relationship problems in our families; problems in our marriages; problems with our children; problems at work with colleagues and supervisors. And above all else—we have problems in our own souls as we wrestle with disappointments, defeats, frustrations, and fears.

If you resonate with these tensions and long for some kind of peace, you might try simply being still.

Let  America’s best theologian offer some help. In a sermon titled The Sole Consideration, which he preached in June of 1735, Jonathan Edwards pointed his hearers to this passage: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). About this psalm Edwards says,

If you knew this, you would be inwardly still and quiet; you would humbly and calmly lie in the dust before a sovereign God, and would see sufficient reason for it.

The revelation of God is so great that it leaves the believer feeling too small to stay above ground. And yet, we live above ground, so our only response is a low bow. Like Moses in Exodus 34, we make haste to bow low before the Lord. Edwards notes that the psalm was written at a time like ours, when circumstances were fearful. Edwards points out that the psalm was written “in a time of great revolutions and desolations in the world.” According to Edwards (and Psalm 46), God’s people can be still in a chaotic world.

How does being still help? The help comes in two ways.

First, as Edwards points out, a proper view of God puts the soul in a state of complete rest before God’s sovereignty. Many people suffer anxiety and fear because they believe they can’t be alone. Like wildebeests, many folks need to be in a crowd—or if not in a crowd at least with a companion. Part of the anxiety of aloneness is the natural state of knowing “my soul is not right with God.” In other words, this fear of being alone reminds us—like Adam and Eve—that we are naked before God and need to find some cover: if not a fig leaf, then a crowd of others will do. This effort is futile.

The soul can’t hide from God. The beauty of Psalm 46:10 is that the soul—even the sinful soul—does not have to hide from God. God makes a way for sinful souls to have fellowship with him, but it demands faith that HE IS GOD. Such faith begins with a humble bow and calm stillness before His greatness.

The psalmist says, “Be still AND know that I am God.” Edwards points out that the soul can be both brought low before a highly exalted God AND be completely still and calm. Though the soul is calm and still, it remains very much alive (maybe even more alive than when surrounded by a boisterous crowd). Since God is described as a holy, all-consuming fire, being still before Him takes faith and courage. But such a bold faith gets rewarded with a calm and unshakable stillness.

Second, The soul that is still like this before God is helped to “sober up.” What I mean by this is that stillness before God has a way of helping us think rightly about ourselves. Inside, we struggle with our failures and either try to overcome them or assume the fatalist retreat into “I just can’t help it… it’s who I am.”

The truth of being sober and still before God reveals two important facts: (1) I am actually not the center of the universe; (2) God is! The weight of the world—and even the weight of my inner failures—is on God’s shoulders, not mine. God’s got it under control. I am inadequate to stand in his presence, yet he does not wish to condemn me to death. He makes a way for me to be still and know that he is God.

What if today you give it a try? Find a quiet place to be alone and just stop. Quote Psalm 46:10. And don’t do anything. Just stop. Be still.

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After a time of being still, you can sing a verse or two of the great hymn Be Still My Soul

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side;

bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;

leave to your God to order and provide;

in ev’ry change he faithful will remain.

Be still, my soul: your best, your heav’nly Friend

through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Even better than that hymn is Jesus’s own invitation for you to rest with him in God’s presence:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, ESV).

Be still. He is God.

Why Worry?


Students get anxious when final exams arise. Salesmen get anxious when monthly sales quotas fall short. Authors get anxious when the manuscript deadline draws near. Contractors get anxious when rain delays put them behind schedule. Parents get anxious when their children flirt with unhealthy life choices. Everyone experiences the pressure which leads to worry. It’s part of life.

A lot of times, we juggle our own anxiety along with the anxieties of those closest to us.

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Perhaps your daughter is stressing about not having a date to prom while you are worrying about the next round of layoffs at the company. Maybe your girlfriend is having tons of problems with her impossible roommate while you are waiting for someone to pay what they owe you so you can make this month’s rent.

Life is filled with an endless flow of opportunities for worry. And into such a worry-filled world, we find in Philippians 4, Paul saying some amazing things: “Be anxious for nothing.”

What! Really? No way! There’s so much to be anxious about! Are we to pretend these anxieties don’t exist?

As it turns out, Paul offers a remedy much better than pretending. He instructs us to “let our requests be made known to God” (4:6). Paul follows a biblical pattern for obedience. Like much of the Bible, Paul follows his “Do not” with a better “Do this instead.” The negative introduces, but the positive action is supposed to rule the day.

So Paul says in Philippians 4, “Do not be anxious for anything” (negative); instead let your requests be made known to God (positive). He seems to say that telling God what we need in order to [Do Not Be Anxious] will somehow remedy all our worrisome woes.

Does life really work this way?

I can imagine a conversation with someone in my congregation who is fighting anxiety. My saying something like “Tell God about it” or “Pray” or “Go to God with this” usually doesn’t help at all. The immediate reply to me often goes like this: “O, I have been praying about this.” [And God has not responded.]

No one openly admits that their real concern is that they have been asking God, and God has not helped! In fact, in conversations about anxiety, people aren’t really asking, “how do I get rid of anxiety?” What they really want to know is, “Why has God not fixed this yet?” The answer to that question, according to Paul, is something worse than we imagine.

Anxiety about our circumstances is not an indication that we have forgotten God; it’s a declaration that God is insufficient to meet our needs. Worrying and fretting are statements that God’s timing is all wrong. Anxiety is a call for God’s inaction to be overturned.

Paul’s positive command to let your requests be made known to God is not our opportunity to supply God with the information he was missing. Rather, this command is an opportunity for us to reverse course, to put the matter back in God’s hands where the outcome will be more secure.

Look at the text more closely. Paul says,

 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:4-7.

First, Paul reminds us that the Lord is near. Then he commands us to let our requests be made known to God. Notice the attention Paul gives to describing HOW we are to let our requests be made known.

  1. Aware of God’s nearness.
  2. Without anxiety.
  3. In everything (all life circumstances all the time).
  4. By prayer and by supplication.
  5. With thanksgiving.

Paul gives us quite a description of the method and demeanor which ought to shape our prayers. Perhaps the last part is the most difficult: with thanksgiving! How can people give thanks for the very things which are stressing them out?

Paul says give thanks to God for the people in your life. Give thanks to God for the opportunity He is giving you to be a faithful witness. Give thanks to God for the way He is reminding us of our own weaknesses and of our great need for a great savior and lord! Give thanks for the school, thanks for the job, thanks for the children, thanks for the spouse, thanks for the income—thanks for the God who is near and has never left nor forsaken His children (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).

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Here’s the craziest part of all… Paul is writing this letter from prison! Paul was thrown into prison when he founded the church at Philippi. And Paul was in prison again when he wrote this letter to these saints. Trying to spread the gospel, he kept getting thrown into dungeons with his feet and hands shackled to the floor. Did he have reason for being anxious about his future? Yes!

But he likely followed his own advice and let his requests be known to God in all of life by prayer with thanksgiving. And Paul found what you and I will find: the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guards hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (4:7).

How great is this encouragement!

The peace of God—beyond all our thoughts—will guard our hearts and minds. What does Paul mean that our hearts and minds will be guarded? He means just like the Philippian jailer once stood outside his cell and guarded Paul, his prisoner, so now the Almighty sovereign of heaven and earth stands guard to keep the minds and hearts of his people locked in his house of safety chained to his promise of peace for their souls.

To be “free” of God’s standing guard to keep us in his peace, all we need to do is demand our right to start worrying again about tomorrow.