During one of my morning devotional times last week, I read something that surprised me. In Colossians, the Apostle Paul wrote:
"Let the peace of heart that comes from Christ be always present in your hearts and lives, for this is your responsibility and privilege as members of his body. And always be thankful." (Colossians 3:15, TLB)
Peace is…our responsibility? I don’t think I’d ever thought of it quite like that before.
To be responsible for something means to be “answerable or accountable, as for something within one's power, control, or management.” If we’re responsible for peace, that means being at peace is within our control and we’ll even be held accountable for the amount of peace in our lives.
I know this might be hard to accept.
So often, I feel powerless to put myself at peace. When I read this verse last week, my first was, So it’s my responsibility to be at peace, but how do I do that, exactly?
In that moment, I was all too aware of the restlessness of my anxious heart. Even amidst my quiet time, the challenges of everyday life nagged at me: a dental visit I’m dreading, unexpected household repairs, difficult but necessary conversations I’d rather not initiate…
Let the peace of heart always be present…
So, what can we do?
I think one key to making peace a daily reality is right there at the end of the verse: “Always be thankful.”
Thankful thinking is inherently positive thinking. We don’t have to feel positive to do it, but being thankful always brings positive feelings with it—including peace.
What we think about grows. If I spend all mental energy thinking about my problems, those problems will grow to fill my mind until I can hardly see anything else. They steal my peace and blind me to solutions. But if I choose thankfulness, my awareness of goodness, provision, abundance, and joy will grow, filling me with the peace of knowing that everything is going to be okay.
Three Forms of Thankfulness
There are three forms of thankfulness that I have found to be particularly peace producing.
1. Thankfulness for Who God is
For me, the most powerful form of thankfulness is being thankful for who God is and who he promises to be for me: creator, provider, healer, comforter, guider, lover…
I remind myself of who He is through things like reading the Bible, reviewing old journal entries (where I’ve recorded promises and past answers to prayers), and listening to worship music. As I soak in truth, I’m reawakened to the reality that God is so much bigger than any problem I can face. I can respond by thanking Him for who He is and that He has the solutions to my problems.
2. Thankfulness for Who God says I am
A second powerful form of thankfulness is gratitude for who God says I am. I can choose to remind myself and rejoice that
I am His beloved child.
I am wanted.
I am adored by Him, and He sings over me with joy.
I can run and not grow weary.
I have all I need to accomplish the work He has given me.
I have been set free from fear.
I have His power and a strong mind.
I have the Holy Spirit to teach and guide me.
3. Thankfulness for the Good in My Life
A third potent peace producer is gratitude for how good I have it in life. No, things aren’t always as easy as I would like them to be. But there is so much more going right than there is going wrong. I’m well fed, have a beautiful home, a loving husband, a great family, and loyal friends. When I look for it, I can always find something to be thankful for in my everyday life.
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The Practice and Process of Peace
Without fail, when I withdraw my attention from the problems in my life and instead focus on thanking God for who He is and all He has done and is doing in my life, I feel my heart and mind settle. Instead of fear, hope fills my horizon. I may not instantly feel 100% at peace, but I always feel better.
Learning to fulfill our responsibility to be at peace is a process of adjusting our focus over and over again. It’s a practice of training ourselves to keep our eyes on Jesus instead of our circumstances.
I don’t pretend to have this process perfected. Some days, it’s a real struggle. It takes courage, consistency, and perseverance. But it is possible. Peace is possible.
I’m so thankful for our gracious Father, the gift of His peace, and His kind patience as I learn to walk with Him. Praying for peace for you today.
Have you noticed a link between peace and thankfulness in your own life? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!
"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
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