True peace, though we strive for it daily, is not something that can be achieved. It can only be received. Jesus said:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
— John 14:27
Jesus not only left us in peace, he left us his peace. This peace that Christ left with us does not affect our surroundings or circumstances — it affects our souls. This peace is the peace of reconciliation with God through the sacrifice of his Son and the knowledge that he overcame this world and went to prepare a place for us.
It doesn’t seem that Jesus expects us not to suffer emotionally and physically from our surroundings and situations. After all, according to Luke, upon the prospect of his imminent and violent demise, Jesus was so distraught that he sweat blood and, in prayer, asked God to take the burden from him if possible. Certainly, his heart was troubled. But within this fierce emotion, Christ spoke the words, “not my will but yours be done,” knowing that it is God’s perfect will that encompasses all of the prospects and knowledge of good and peaceful outcomes.
Through prayer, Jesus let God know of his fears and desires. Leaning into God’s will grants us the knowledge that, whatever we must go through, there is goodness on the other side. There is no greater peace than this knowledge. The peace of submitting to God’s will in all circumstances is the peace of knowing that you have submitted to the greatest and most perfect good of a perfect Father who has plans to give us hope and a future.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
— Jeremiah 29:11
If we seek perfect goodness, if we seek God, we cannot go wrong. Though our circumstance may be bleak, the knowledge that we are with God and are submitting to his perfect will allows us soulful peace within the most distressful of situations in this world, to which we have become foreigners.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
— Joshua 1:9