Tag Archives: anxiety

Can peace be experienced in the midst of chaos? Part 1 of 2

Hurricane_Isabel_ISS“Just make it go away!”  Many of us can relate to this desire to escape or just get rid of a problem we are facing.  At times circumstances in our lives can seem overwhelming.  It is no wonder why many turn to substances (alcohol/drugs) or unhealthy levels of certain activities (shopping, gambling, eating, etc.), in order to try and cope with their circumstances.

There is no escape.  These things may provide a diversion.  The reality of the problems still remain.  Our attempts to alter the perception of reality do nothing to the real situation.

Is it possible to experience a peace, and the resulting clarity and strength, in the middle of whatever is happening?

YES!  This has been my experience.  And not my experience alone.  Many followers of Jesus Christ report the same experience.  One such follower is Paul, the Apostle.  He wrote in his letter to the Christians at the city of Philippi in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey): “Do not worry 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 4:6, 7 – NRSV)

Sometimes we may confuse the idea of “prayer” with wish making or demands.  St. Paul, in prison for his faith at the time of writing, expresses prayer as “requests”—not demands.  When we use prayer as some magical wish or demand formula we miss the relational aspect God is offering.

God does not sit on high and only have an abstract connection with our suffering.  He entered into our suffering.  Jesus lived a life that included much suffering.  He still enters our suffering every time we call upon Him. 

People, in their freedom, may choose to hurt us.  They may choose to do wrong to others for whom we care.  At times there seems to be no shortage of people choosing to do hurtful acts.  No matter what others choose to do; God will never leave us alone in our distress.

From my perspective I would rather God simply remove the problems, problem people, etc.  However, God most often does not choose to violate our (or other’s) human freedom.  At the same time He will provide all that we need to make it through the difficult environment we create for ourselves or others create that impacts our lives.  His presence, strength, wisdom and peace are available to all who call upon the Name of the Lord.

If all our problems were removed then the peace Paul speaks of would not go “beyond understanding.”  It is understandable to experience peace in the absence of conflict or adversity.  A peace that “goes beyond understanding” is a peace experienced in the middle of turmoil and chaos.

In Part 2 we will consider some examples of experience God’s peace and provision in the midst of our troubles.

Question: Have you ever experience a peace that “goes beyond understanding”?

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What do you do when one thing piles upon another? 3 suggestions…

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Sometimes things happen on top of things that happen on top of other things.  Sound familiar?  If it were not familiar than statements like, “When it rains it pours,” would not be so common.

This has not been an uncommon theme in my experience as a pastor and a coach.  Often the events seem to be unrelated.  Physical illness, loos a job, car breaks down, furnace breaks, dog gets sick, a close friend passes…  You get the picture.  It could be any number of things that pile up one each other—on you.  And if you are already dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress or anxiety…

  1. Double down on what you know works.  This is the time to stand firm.  Take a breath and review all the tools you have already acquired.  What has worked for you in the past: exercise, healthy food choices, meditation, prayer, study, and time with friends, action…?  This is likely different for each of us.  Stand strong in all that you know how to do to deal with adversity.  If that is not enough, learn new strategies to deal with adversity!  The more difficult the circumstance the greater possibility for growth.
  2. Reach out for help!  Humble yourself and let trusted resources know you are struggling.  Let them know how they could help.  Don’t dump your problems on them.  Rather, let them know how they could help you solve or deal with one of the issues.
  3. Consider reaching out to help another person.  (listen to our podcast: “3 Reasons to Reach Out To Help“) When things seem to be snowballing in our lives it can be helpful to take some of the focus off of our circumstances and reach out to help someone else through something difficult in their lives.  This is not to deny the reality of our situation.  Rather, it helps contextualize our situation.  We also seem to receive so much more when we give.

Question:  What do you do that is helpful with everything seems to be happening at the same time?  Or What affect do other life circumstances have on PTSD?