Chaos is everywhere.
Without getting into the depths of all things, I will say that the last couple of years of my life have been branded with chaos. The few who are close to me know this to be true. I don't share that in hopes that anyone reading this will feel for me, but rather because I know that I am not the only one living in chaos. All of us have been there. Some of us are still there. And if you are not, you will be there one day. Chaos aims to shake things up. If it has its way, it will shake you to your very core. It will instill anxiety, fear, and doubt into your being. In these seasons of chaos, the words of Psalm 88 flow through our spirit as blood flows through our veins "…the darkness is my closest friend."
We thirst for peace and relief.
Yet it seems that no matter what we do, we are unable to quench that thirst.
Try as we might, we may find moments of temporary relief, but they escape quickly.
We can't escape chaos.
This is because we don't really know what peace is. While we long for the chaos to be gone, the truth is that THAT is not peace. Peace is not being removed from chaos, but rather knowing with confidence that despite the chaos, you will be ok. You will survive. Read that sentence again, because it is important. Chaos never goes away.
But somehow we believe we can get rid of it.
So we end up on a treadmill, constantly working and going nowhere. We try to put out every fire and eliminate everything that brings chaos into our lives. This is unrealistic. We end up spending our whole lives reacting instead of living. We actually bring more chaos as we try to manage the existing chaos. Don't misunderstand me. It is often a good idea to eliminate sources of conflict that bring chaos into our lives. Sometimes there are some very real changes we need to make, but that in and of itself is not what brings peace. Remember, peace is not the absence of chaos, but the fortitude to endure it with confidence.
In fact, what we learn as we study scripture and listen to The Holy Spirit is that without chaos, we will not develop peace. Chaos helps us to build resilience so that when heavier seasons of chaos come, we can endure. James and Paul both emphasize this…
James 1:2-4 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
Romans 5:3-5 "…but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."
It is through enduring chaos that we develop a position of peace.
Paul speaks about peace to the Philippians (4:6-7.) He writes "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Peace that transcends understanding… This means that peace is there even when it makes no sense for peace to be there. Others may look in on your situation and find themselves puzzled because you are not losing your mind. You may even find yourself puzzled as you consider your own circumstances and see that your sanity is still somewhat there. But that's what peace is. Knowing with confidence that you are going to survive despite the chaos in your life.
Paul didn't tell the Philippians to eliminate the chaos. Rather he told them to pray, to be thankful, and to share their circumstances, their chaos, with their heavenly Father. In return God offers a peace that transcends understanding. You see, God never promised that life would be free of chaos or pain. In fact, quite often when we follow him and do the right thing, it leads us into chaos. But he did promise us that peace is available. That as we endure, we will grow stronger, and that as we rest in him we can live confidently knowing that while chaos abounds, we will be ok. We will survive.
If you find yourself battling chaos, may I encourage you to stop reacting, but rather to find rest in the peace of God. If you feel lost in this pursuit of peace, honestly share that with God. Seek out men and women you trust who seem to understand this and ask them to talk to you about it.
If you seek him and his peace with sincerity, he will lead you where you need to go.
May peace abound.