Scripture has guidance for a new year.
If you asked for peace on earth and didn’t get it this Christmas, you can at least foster a sense of peace in your personal life in the coming year. And if your peace brings those near you peace, what a chain reaction that could start! I know for myself that when I am truly peaceful, and not caught up in worrying or uber-focused on my to-do list, my family becomes more peaceful. But how to get there? Here are five ways to find inner peace based on direct quotes from Jesus.
Do not expect to find peace in your life circumstances. Look to God.
Jesus says, “I have you told you these things so you may have peace. You may have trouble in the world but take heart I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
The world is often crazy, chaotic, and in general not a fan of Jesus and his teaching. But that is not where we find our peace. Jesus also warns us about how the world can make us lose our faith, in the parable of the sower. He says that when some tribulation or persecution comes, we may fall away from Him immediately if we don’t have strong roots. And then “wordly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word” such that it won’t bear fruit (Matthew 13:21-22). If we never make time for God, and we don’t try to make our lives pleasing to him, we will never be able to discover His peace.
Push onward. Do not sit bogged down by life’s difficulties, large and small.
Keep in mind that everyone has hard things in life, and that living with them well will help your mental state much more than bitterness and resentment. Jesus told his disciples that anyone who wanted to come after him must deny himself and “take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) We can’t let our crosses prevent us from following our Lord who was nailed to his. Suffering can make sense, and we can even find peace in it or despite it, but only in Him.
Simplify your life. Be generous with those around you.
The more we are generous, the more detached we can be, then the more at peace and free we can feel. Jesus says invite the poor to your banquets (Luke 14: 13), give expecting nothing in return, (Luke 6:35), give to everyone who asks you for something (Matthew 5:42), sell what you have and give to the poor (Matthew 19:21). Giving away what we have helps us become less preoccupied with acquiring and more focused on what’s actually important in life.
Do not be anxious.
Jesus asks, “Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?” (Matthew 6:27) We will never find peace if we are constantly concerned with what tomorrow will bring. Trusting in God is tough for us. Adam and Eve sinned in the garden because they didn’t trust God and the rule He had given them. But without trust in God, we have to rely on ourselves. And that is just exhausting and stressful.
Spend time in quiet reflection. Ask for what you need in prayer and it will be given you “For everyone who asks, receives.” (Matthew 7:8) Jesus himself would often “withdraw to deserted places to pray.” (Luke 5:16) If Jesus prayed while he was on this earth, we certainly need to. He gave us the Our Father, which is a great place to start. Maybe in this new year, take a week or so and pray with and reflect on each phrase of the Our Father.
Whether it’s your to do list, your work-life balance, your relationships, or your kids that are stressing you out, inner peace is possible. Look at your priorities for the coming year. When you can prioritize Him and trust Him, while getting rid of resentment, excess stuff, and distractions, you might still find yourself as busy as before. But in that busyness, you should be able to remain rooted and calm — secure in the peace only God can give.
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