In every one of Paul’s thirteen letters to the early church, he begins with this greeting: Grace and peace. What a contrast to the litany of news items we receive each night from media newscasts! Because we want to be aware of what is happening in the world, John and I do listen to these reports; in the midst of conflict and pain, we want to be like Paul—distributors of grace and peace. I’m not where Paul was but I’m learning 1) not to cave in so quickly to anxiety, fear, and doubt and 2) how to restore my inner peace when it’s been disrupted. I can’t pass on to others what I do not have.
If I’m not going to cave in to anxiety, fear, and doubt, then it’s crucial for me to recognize what my thoughts and feelings are in the morning when I’m just waking up. Detecting a gray cloud of negativity then, and disposing of it right away, is a whole lot better than letting it hang around with me for the rest of the day. Doing this takes time. That’s why my plan for each day includes time before I start any other task (even my writing projects) to read Scripture and write in my prayer journal. I write down any fear, doubt or anxiety in a prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to give me the knowledge and strength to dispel it.
This morning the Holy Spirit restored peace to anxious my heart as I read and meditated on this statement: “Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble” (Psalm 119:165 NIV). The Message paraphrase reads “ my awe at your words keeps me stable.” How does being awed by God’s words give us inner stability? I asked.
Looking at the context, the surrounding verses, I saw that, for David, standing in awe of God’s words meant these four things:
- He did not cave in to lies; instead, he believed God’s words were true; this freed him from self-doubt and the fear of what others think.
- He placed his confidence in what God said and acted according to God’s instructions; this freed him from anxiety related to guilt.
- He placed his hope in God’s ability to make things turn out for his good; this freed him from the anxiety of an unknown future
- He stopped frequently throughout the day to acknowledge and praise God; this raised his level of joy and gave him strength.
Today, I’m choosing to follow David’s example to stand in awe of God’s word, and I believe that he will give me the inner stability that I need to handle whatever happens. I hope that you make the same choice, so that together, we can distribute God’s grace and peace to a world filled with anxiety, fear, and doubt.