2020 has seemed synonymous with hardship and heartache. But, our year has not been devoid of hope. In the midst of our struggle and pain, how do we endure? How do we tangibly find peace knowing we’ve faced challenges before even as we prepare to face them again?
Trusted pastor and leader Dr. Tony Evans shares about pain and loss as he gives us practical steps to find peace:
The past three years have been the most challenging I’ve ever faced. Our family has experienced a disheartening amount of loss. I lost my brother, sister, brother-in-law, niece, father, and my precious wife all within a span of roughly two years. I know what it is like not to have the energy to walk out the door in the morning. But I also have come to know firsthand the power of peace.
When the walls of loss and uncertainty caved in around me, I discovered what it meant to say the name of Jesus and be filled with His peace. It’s that peace and presence that got me through the days I could not get through in my own strength.
But peace only comes through choosing to align your heart, mind, and actions under the rule of God in obedience to Him. Peace grows out of the choices we make based on faith. It is nurtured and cultivated in a spirit of total dependence upon God and required surrender to His will. God gives us three principles inProverbs 3:5-6 that will help us live in the favor of His peace.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
1. Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
What would happen if you only trusted in the chair or couch you are sitting on, or will sit on later, with a half heart? What if you really didn’t think it would hold you up? How would that change your behavior? Would you sit down gently and hold onto something else, in case it were to give way, and you were to fall? Or would you only sit for a short period of time? If you knew the chair or couch might collapse beneath you at any moment, you wouldn’t flop down on it with all of your weight. Nor would you sprawl out and read a book or take a nap. Trust affects our choices. God wants you to trust Him with your whole heart so that your choices are influenced by that trust.
2. Lean not on your own understanding.
I don’t cook, but I have boiled an egg before. Once. I did it only once because I forgot about what I was doing, and walked away. The pan boiled dry and nearly caught on fire after being left on for so long. But anyone who cooks, or even just boils eggs, knows that in order for a meal, dessert, or snack to turn out—the cook needs to follow the instructions. Leaning on your own understanding, especially if you have limited understanding about ingredients like I do, can be disastrous at worst and tasteless at best. God made this world. He knows how it works. He knows what each of us must do in order to experience the abundant life. To make choices based on our own finite understanding while neglecting the instructions of the Master Chef is disastrous at worst and empty at best.
3. In all your ways acknowledge him.
To acknowledge God in all you do doesn’t mean to reference Him or give Him a holy “shout-out.” To acknowledge Him means to look to Him, to set your eyes on Christ and His way in order to know which way you are to move forward. It’s all about where you choose to focus. Are you making your choices based on an eternal, kingdom perspective or on a limited, worldly perspective? Where you look determines where you’ll wind up.
When you make the choice to trust in the Lord with all of your heart, to let go of your own way of understanding things and to look to God in everything you do, He will make your path straight. He will set you on the right road, headed in the right direction. He will give you peace.
How are you trusting God, right now, in this very moment for all you need?
We pray that you (and your small group members) can continue trusting in the Lord and leaning on His peace as you wrap up your 2020.
This post was excerpted from Dr. Tony Evans’ new Bible study release – U-Turns: Reversing the Consequences in Your Life. For more information about the study, to join the online Bible study, or to find out about a Tony Evans’ Bible study bundle sale (including U-Turns), see more here!