There are two ways that we can be at peace.
The first happens when everything externally is okay. Our lives are undisturbed. Nothing bothersome is going on. Nothing is uncertain. No one we love is sick. Us and ours are safe, secure, and happy.
This is the type of peace that the American dream pursues. If we work hard enough we can buy security and stability.
The problem with this kind of peace is that it never lasts. People die, jobs are lost, friends betray, spouses cheat, economies crash, and disasters happen. No matter how hard we work or how much money we have, we’re ultimately not in control.
The second way to be at peace is to recognize that in spite of these things, everything will be okay. I don’t mean this in a patronizing way. You know, when things are really bad and we tell people, “It will be okay.”
The fact is that in the near term, it might not be okay. It’s not okay when your parents disown you. It’s not okay when you lose your house. It’s not okay when your best friend succumbs to cancer. None of that is okay.
But that’s the short view. And while the things that happen in the short view matter, taking the long view is critical.
In the long view, we recognize that God is on the throne, that He is telling His story and working out His purposes in the world. We recognize that even if it’s all going to hell in a handbasket now, God is still at work, that He has called us and redeemed us, and that in the end we will reside with Him in a world that knows no sorrow, suffering, or pain. That in the end, it truly will be okay.
The Apostle Paul—the one who was imprisoned, beaten, and shipwrecked—puts it like this, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."