When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
The first time I heard someone talk about the peace of God in a tangible way was when the mother of my friend told me about the death of one of her sons. She told me he’d gone missing, and she knew in her spirit something was wrong. She said before his brother came to the house to tell her the bad news, the peace of God fell on her and prepared her to hear that her son was dead. She told me she wasn’t hysterical. She didn’t go crazy. The peace of God kept her so she could deal with the horrible news. I was in my early twenties when I heard this story.
Since then, I have read about the peace of God, preached about it and experienced it in small spurts (if that’s even possible), but the Lord made it tangible and real for me this past week.
You see, the demons that have attacked me the most during my life beginning as a small child are fear and panic. Even as young as five, I remember having paralyzing thoughts about my mother dying and leaving my brothers and sisters and I to fend for ourselves. My siblings will tell you I was the “scary” child, always worried about thunderstorms, tornadoes and natural disasters. I’d stay awake for hours contemplating the meaning of life, why we are here and what happens when we die. For years, my mother couldn’t understand why I was so heavily burdened as a child.
As I yielded my life to Christ as a young person, many of the irrational fears subsided, and I learned how to war against them through the Holy Spirit. However, as the Bible warns, my soul was swept clean and fear and panic would always make their way back to launch more attacks (Luke 11:24-26). In the months leading up to my husband’s death, I suffered from several debilitating panic attacks. I had no idea where they came from.
This past week, I found myself in a situation that always triggered panic attacks. Leading up to it, I was extremely worried. I was so anxious that my four year old son asked me in a full and complete sentence which is rare for him, “Mommy, are you Okay?” Like clockwork, negative thoughts invaded my mind. What if I had a panic attack and embarrassed myself? What if I scared my children? Panic always makes you feel like you’re helpless and in a life-threatening situation. Psychologists call it the body’s “fight or flight” response. However, as soon as it was time for me to face the fearful situation, the peace of God fell on me. I can only describe it as the peace that surpasses all understanding. It felt like a blanket covering me. Everything in my body wanted to enter “fight or flight,” but the Lord’s peace subdued my flesh and I made it through the situation without panic. It was amazing. That’s the only way I can describe it. It made me think back to when one of my New Testament professors, Dr. Cain Felder, told us that when Jesus spoke peace to the storm in Mark 4, He wasn’t only speaking to the weather, but also to the storm raging on the inside of the frightened disciples.
That’s when the Lord taught me a lesson about the flesh. Jesus whispered to me, “Put no confidence in the flesh because within it, there is no good thing” (Romans 7:18; Philippians 3:1-4). The Lord showed me in a real and tangible way how His power and the peace of God could subdue my flesh. He taught me that the panic attacks originate and manifest in the flesh, but He has the power to bring it into subjection. It was amazing. I feel like some major shackles have been broken off of me.
I am saying all this to say be encouraged. You may be wrestling with something in your flesh, but Jesus has the power to subdue and overcome the flesh. Jesus can and will speak peace to the storms raging in your life. We can’t fight and overcome these battles in our own strength (in our flesh), but by the Spirit of God (Zechariah 4:6). In Him, we are more than conquerors.
If you’re struggling with something today, turn it over to God and pray for the peace and power of God to deliver you from it. I am a firsthand witness. The Lord is willing and able to deliver you. Don’t give up!