Everyone wants to know how to have inner peace. People make great sacrifices, travel great distances, and waste much time searching for something that is immediately available to everyone. Whether you’re searching for your own inner peace or wanting to help others discover theirs, this article is for you.
Peace in the Storm
A vicious storm came upon a small, wooden fishing boat. The crew of twelve men panicked as huge, rolling waves tossed the boat in all directions, threatening to capsize the vessel. They were taking on water fast, and no one quite knew what to do.
Finally, one of them realized they could perhaps consult the man who was asleep on a cushion in the back of the boat. That man was Jesus.
As a kid growing up in church, the way I remember seeing this scene depicted in cartoons involved Jesus, with determination in His eyes, marching to the front of the boat, raising His arms and declaring in a deep, manly voice, “Peace! Be still!” But I imagine the reality was probably a little different. I imagine Jesus awakening from a deep sleep (deep enough that the intensity of the storm hadn’t already awakened Him). Perhaps He wasn’t confused—He is Jesus after all—but I still imagine Him a little groggy and perhaps even disoriented, if only for a moment.
Imagine the commotion to which He awoke! Three or four terrified faces loom over His, screaming in terror as the men shake His shoulder. The boat is rolling and turning every which way. Several others behind them are bailing water as fast as they can. Matthew, who wasn’t a fisherman, was clinging to the mast. Maybe Bartholomew was barfing over the side. Lighting, thunder, wind, rain, shouting, twisting, turning, rolling, spray….
“Teacher! Don’t You care if we drown!?!”
I imagine Jesus rubbing His eye and wiping the water from His face as He sat up, slowly rising to His feet, clearing His throat, looking up at the storm, and finally uttering His famous words: “Peace! Be Still!”
The wind stopped.
The waves settled.
Matthew let go of the mast and straightened his robe as though nothing happened.
Bartholomew threw up again.
Inner Peace is Available to Everyone
As the stunned crew took in the moment, Jesus broke the silence: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40)
When I was a kid, I didn’t really understand this line. Of course they had faith, I thought, That’s why they woke up Jesus!
But that’s not what He was talking about. Of course they had faith in Jesus. But while we know that Jesus is God (John 1:1), they didn’t know this yet. At best, they knew He was the Messiah, but not God. So while they may have had faith in Jesus—the “teacher” or “rabbi” as they called Him—they didn’t have faith in God. They had faith in their rabbi’s faith in God, but they didn’t have any of their own faith in God.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus’ words are presented a little differently: “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25, emphasis mine) In other words, “Any of you could have done the same thing if you had trusted God.”
Jesus lived with a deep, inner peace that came from His absolute trust in the Father’s goodness. His inner peace was so profound that He was able to sleep in the stern of a boat in the midst of a wild squall. And His inner peace was so abundant and authoritative that it overflowed through His words to influence even the wind and waves.
The inner peace Jesus carried was the natural byproduct of wholeheartedly trusting the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22)
Isaiah 26:3 — You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You. (NIV)
Jesus’ mind was steadfast because He trusted completely in His Father. This is the very definition of faith.
But the disciples’ minds were racing. They believed drowning was more likely than surviving. Their thoughts were consumed with a faulty expectation that the wind and waves had more authority over their destinies than Father God did. The disciples didn’t have faith.
Nevertheless, Jesus expected faith from them. Jesus seems to question with a certain measure of exasperation, “Do you still have no faith?” In other words, “You know, I could still be sleeping if one of you had done that instead!”
The Synergy of Inner Peace
Synergy is the exponential increase of effectiveness as more people join the work. It’s the principle that while one person could perhaps carry a table, two people can carry it more easily and maneuver it more effectively. It’s the idea that a rowing team can make a boat move faster than a single man with an oar.
There is a certain sense of synergy that happens when more than one person is walking in inner peace. While I believe Jesus received all His inner peace from the Father, I see a component at work in this story that shocks me: Jesus trusted His disciples to have their own inner peace!
When you trust that the people around you have their own inner peace, you realize you’re not the last hope for the moment. You realize you don’t have to put out every fire—or, more accurately in this story, you realize you don’t have to calm every storm. That’s not an invitation to inaction, but it is an encouragement to trust the peace of God that resides in other believers, trusting that they too can express the answer to the problem.
So while I receive all my inner peace from the Lord, I receive an extra dose of rest knowing that the family of believers with whom I fellowship also walks in the peace of God. I don’t burn out as the only effective minister. Instead we carry the work of ministry together, loving one another and expecting the best from each other. When someone in my church needs healing, I ask, “Who wants to do this one?” When someone is discouraged, I ask, “Does anyone feel like they have a word from the Lord?” I don’t have to do it all myself or be the solution to everyone’s problems. Instead, we—collectively as the Body of Christ—can all minister the peace of God that we carry.
How to Have Inner Peace
Lets make this practical. How can I have inner peace? The answer is simple.
As already mentioned, God will keep us in perfect peace with steadfast minds if we trust completely in Him. We have a tendency to trust and expect whatever we see with consistency.
Sometimes frequency mimics consistency. In other words, the more often you see something happen—even if it isn’t particularly consistent—the more you expect it to happen again. Then, when evaluating whether or not to expect a particular outcome, you tend to trust what you’ve seen most regularly.
Many of Jesus’ disciples were former fishermen. They had likely been in many storms. They knew the dangers of the sea and had perhaps even lost colleagues to the raging waves. They had never seen Jesus calm a storm; they had only seen storms bring danger and destruction. They had more faith in the destructive power of the storm than in the victorious power of God.
Jesus, however, spent daily time communing with His Father. He set the goodness of God before the eyes of His heart and feasted His mind on the truth of the Father’s love and nature. Jesus meditated more on the goodness of His Father than on the trouble of the world. For Jesus, the Father’s goodness was the most logical outcome because He saw it with frequency and consistency through the eyes of His heart.
Inner peace only enters your life when the Spirit of Peace enters your life. If you haven’t surrendered your life to Jesus, then the rest of my advice won’t help you. Victory only begins when the Victorious One comes to live within us. If you don’t know Jesus, I encourage you to watch my video message about what Jesus accomplished to transform your life.
If, however, you’ve given your life completely to Jesus but still struggle to remain in true inner peace, Consider what you have trained yourself to expect. What do you place before your eyes? What do you behold with your heart? What do you meditate on?
Focus on the Savior, not the Storm
Only a couple years ago, the New York Times reported that the average American watched just over FIVE HOURS of television per day! Even if you don’t watch that much, what do you watch when you do? What do you allow to entertain you?
I know many believers who struggle to find inner peace because they feast their minds more on MSNBC, CNN, or Fox News than they do on the goodness of God. They believe that terrorists, natural disasters, world culture, politics, conspiracies, or who the president is all have more authority over their destinies than our loving Father. They spend their days worrying about earthly circumstances instead of meditating on the goodness of the God who dwells within them. They express frustration, fear, and anxiety rather than speaking peace to the storms around them. Because they watch so much of this material, it takes prominence via frequency, which translates into consistency and eventually becomes the object of their faith.
We don’t have to bury our heads in the sand and be unaware of what’s happening in the world. We simply need to guard what we allow ourselves to believe is most trustworthy. As mentioned, this stems from what we see most frequently and come to believe is most consistent.
Do you feast your mind on the Word of God or do you feast your mind on earthly things?
Do you meditate on testimonies of God’s goodness or does your mind race with the possible evils and dangers in the world?
Which do you allow yourself to see most frequently?
Colossians 3:1–15 — Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. . . . Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. . . . But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. . . . Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (NIV, shortened for clarity, emphasis mine)
If you want to have inner peace, eliminate the sinful practices that ruin true peace. Instead embrace Jesus, the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
Your Inner Peace can Change the World
Not only can you express the peace you carry in ways that bring others under the influence of God’s peace, but your inner peace can also awaken others to the goodness of God. Your faith-filled actions can renew the minds of spectators and encourage them to step into faith-filled actions of their own. Just as Jesus’ expression of inner peace was an example to the disciples (and to us), our expressions of inner peace can inspire others. And when we participate in a community of other believers who all exhibit inner peace, we find ourselves able to sleep in a boat in a storm, trusting that the others can handle the situation.
Fix your eyes on Jesus. Let His peace saturate your heart. Trust Him wholeheartedly and keep your mind steadfast on the goodness of our loving Heavenly Father.
Then speak peace to your storm.
Inner peace is available. Receive it, and then let it out.
Be blessed! –Art