Recently a Christian radio host, whom I admire, answered a caller’s question about hearing God speak.
He made an excellent argument against the popular charismatic viewpoint that every Christian should regularly receive personal, direct messages from God. This radio host suggested that dramatic, specific “words” from the Lord represent the exception rather than the rule for most followers of Jesus. I wholeheartedly agreed.
Most of the time, God speaks in the general sense through the person of Jesus Christ and the words of Scripture. In Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, we have the guidance and direction that we need to navigate our daily lives. Amen and amen!
Then he stared talking about our emotions. Sometimes, he suggested, we can sense God’s leading by a feeling of unease or certainty. Call it conscience; call it your gut; call it the prompting of the Holy Spirit; but God will send gentle nudges to direct us.
Here I must respectfully disagree.
Back when I was trying to decide whether or not I should marry my boyfriend, I heard a pastor say that I would “feel peace” amidst the uncertainty. Yes, the difficult decisions would require a leap of faith, but I’d have inner tranquility to confirm that I was within God’s will.
Maybe that works for some people. It didn’t work for me. I never felt peace. I waited for that inner nudge too long, to the point that I started to go a little nuts. Then I finally stopped trying to find a way out.
I never felt peace.
Looking back, I realize now that I was seeking escape from a tough choice. I wanted God to do the hard work for me. I demanded that inner nudge because I didn’t think I could do it on my own. God knew better.
I think God intentionally doesn’t give us peace sometimes because He expects more. He’s not going to let us coast. If you’re waiting for peace from God, you’ll wait forever. Give it up and move forward.
If God gave us peace, we wouldn’t learn courage.
God allows fear in our lives because He loves us.
He wants the best for you, and in this life, escaping from fear isn’t the best thing. Being afraid, and learning to move forward through that fear, is better. If He gave us peace, we would never learn courage.
A coward is someone who gives in to fear. Courage means feeling all the agony of indecision and anxiety–and moving through it. Courage requires practice.
God only allows you to be anxious because He loves you too much to spare you from pain. Right now, my heart aches for you because I know it’s so, so hard. I also believe that I am better equipped to face scary decisions today because He didn’t give me peace.
I’m praying that you discover the same.
The Reluctant Bride
4 Replies to “Counterpoint: You Won’t “Feel Peace””
Good points. I believe God wants to build courage in us, though I wonder if trust in God might be the more precise label for the issue.
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Very true. I didn’t really trust Him.
This is a sacred cow you’re searing! I love it.
It makes me think of the time Tim Keller was asked if he felt peace about moving to NYC and starting a church, and he said: “I think God’s calling me. But I can’t be absolutely sure. I can be sure that I must not lie; it’s in the Bible. I can be sure that I must not bow down to idols; it’s in the Bible. I’m sure of a lot of things that are God’s will. But as far as I know, I won’t be sure that I’m called to plant a church until it happens.”
Yeeeikes. That runs counter to a LOT of interpretations of God’s will. And regarding whether to marry someone, practically the entirety of Christian guidance on that subject would probably say, “NO, do NOT move unless there’s a peace!” What you just wrote would absolutely freak some people out!
So it comes down to what you believe about the nature of peace. I like the precept of, “just because God promises it doesn’t mean you possess it”. There could be a million reasons why God wills something but peace doesn’t come – including, as you said, an anxious personality (which I share), the fact that it’s paywalled behind prayer (as Phil. 4 suggests), or the fact that it’s opposed by Satan. The fact that you lack peace doesn’t mean it isn’t God’s will. That may make a lot of people uncomfortable as they seek to make Christianity easy for folks, but I think you’re hitting closer to the mark with this post.
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I am that person you’re describing, who would have said, “I’m not doing this unless God gives me peace first.” In fact, I said exactly those words, over and over again, for a year and a half, until I teetered on the brink of a literal mental breakdown. It does “freak me out” that God won’t make His specific will clear at all times.
Thank you for this thoughtful comment; that illustration from Keller couldn’t condense the issue better! Yes, God does scare us sometimes, but we must accept nothing less than all of Him.
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