17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace;
and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
18 And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation,
and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;
Righteousness is supposed to equal peace. So where have we gone wrong? Where is our peace? Why are we so angry, or even just frustrated and annoyed?
Righteousness comes from putting our faith and trust in God. When we trust someone completely, we feel comfortable about their decisions. It is like letting someone who you know is a good driver take the wheel so you can enjoy the scenery or go to sleep. Our actions (like going to sleep in the above example) prove our trust and faith in the person, just as it says in James 2:18 (I will show you my faith from my works). So when we are not in peace, we are not trusting God for something.
Heb 13:5-6 says:
5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
We get anxious or angry when things either do not or may not go the way we want them. We start focusing or obsessing about what we cannot have or do, and our general contentment goes out the window. Our words (complaints or even jokes) can be a sure sign that we are unhappy about something, and it sours our attitude toward the rest of our life.
Notice how the fact that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us is supposed to help us deal with our discontent. He is our helper, we are not (as we erroneously think) alone in this situation. We don’t have to fear or be anxious about whatever is (or is not) going on, and what man may or may not do to me. However, we stay angry as long as we rigidly demand that things go our way.
So peace comes from being content with what we have at this moment. That doesn’t mean we don’t want the situation to change and get better. It means coming to terms with our present circumstances as they are, and trusting that God knows what is going on, is still watching over us, and still has our best interest in mind. We don’t have to pretend our situation is good – call a spade a spade – but we have to make the conscious decision that we will continue to trust in God’s existence and goodness.
Sometimes (or most of the time?) we may need to ask God to increase our faith, especially if we want to go one step further and hope that life will one day get better. But if we want peace and not anxiety, fear and anger, we must find a way to trust Him in the midst of our painful situations. Maybe you need to imagine Him driving a car with you in the passenger seat to make it real for you. In any case, we will experience disappointment and things not going our way for the rest of our lives. Don’t you think we should find a way to live in peace all the while?