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 and do not be afraid.
One of the harder things that I have learned living abroad is that God is truly the only constant in life.
So often you try to replace that foundation with other things. Sometimes a job, sometimes a person, sometimes a skill. And sometimes, for a while, it feels like you have succeeded.
But then eventually, you realize that your foundation is not secure, that it was not built out of lasting materials. As life’s storms come, that foundation – the one thing that you trusted to get you through, to keep you grounded, the one that you’ve built your life upon – begins to wear down. Sometimes it is a long process, sometimes it is sudden.
But it always leaves you floundering.
In moving to the other side of the world, I unknowingly yet voluntarily trashed every familiar thing that I had ever known. I uprooted myself from the comfortable with no plans to return for a full year.
And it was hard. I struggled to find joy and stability and passion for life and peace like I never had before.
But, as gold is refined in fire, I came out stronger on the other side. God has used this past year to teach me an important lesson, as slow and painstaking as it might’ve been for me to learn.
Because, when I had nothing comfortable to turn to, nothing familiar in sight, He was still there. The other, lesser options had been stripped away, and I had only one place to go.
I am beyond thankful for this past year and the hardships it held.
The term “peace that transcends all understanding” means so much more to me now. When the storms of life come, when difficult things happen… it’s still hard. I often face situations that I don’t like, that I hadn’t expected, that I don’t feel prepared for. I still don’t know what’s going to happen or how I should react.
But I am no longer staring up at these giants alone.
God has gifted me with such a powerful assurance that He is right there with me. That “in all these things we are more than conquerors through HIM who loved us (Romans 8:37).” That no matter what happens, it will all be fine in the end.
Because, honestly, things of this world are not as important any longer.
And through situations during which I logically feel like my heart should be in utter turmoil, I instead have peace. A peace which transcends all understanding.
And in place of the turmoil and agitation, I have joy. Joy that is not based on any situation in life or any event in this world, but joy that is solely based on who I know God to be and on the truth that He is with me.
And for this I am thankful.
I’d like to leave you with the lyrics to a Chris Tomlin song, How Can I Keep from Singing, that I have come to understand more fully over the past year:
I can sing in the troubled times,
Sing when I win,
I can sing when I lose my step and I fall down again.
I can sing ’cause you pick me up,
Sing ’cause you’re there.
I can sing ’cause you hear me Lord, when I call to you in prayer.
I can sing with my last breath,
Sing, for I know:
That I’ll sing with the angels and the saints around the throne!