CLERGY CORNER: The Quest for Peace

Posted on 28 June 2018 by LeslieM

The recent high profile deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have put a renewed spotlight on depression and its connection to mental illness. In the wake of their suicides, it was revealed that both of them were battling depression compounded by an inability to overcome it. It is reported that major depression is a mental illness that affects more than 16 million adults every year. More concerning in is the fact that half of those affected never seek treatment for depression. We should encourage those who seem unable to emerge from the gloom and sadness that threatens all of us to seek a professional counselor for the help that they need. Modern medicines have been developed to adequately address the brain’s malfunctions and help people to enjoy a normal life.

Mental illness is only one side of the issue of depression. However, far too many people are succumbing to depression due to an inability to properly manage their emotions when life becomes overwhelming. It’s not that they are mentally deficient, but that they’ve bought into the idea that money, fame, possessions or achievement will give them satisfaction. The pressure to have more, to accomplish unrealistic expectations or to simply keep up with the proverbial “Joneses” is a never ending treadmill. Worry, anxiety and frustration will push one over the edge if not tempered by a realistic perspective and proper priorities. When what we can have or accomplish becomes our sole purpose for existence. We set ourselves up for discouragement when they fail to satisfy. Someone once remarked that Alexander the Great died in discouragement, having no more kingdoms to conquer.

We have a natural inclination toward a peaceful, balanced existence free from conflict and disorder. Maturity means that we are able to enjoy the good in life, survive and learn from the bad, and to realize that adversity and pain are as likely as joy and comfort. A good mental disposition helps us to navigate the varying landscapes of our progress through life. The peace that seems elusive is possible with the proper attitude and perspective. Isaiah 26:3 offers the Biblical approach to attaining true peace. “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

First, note that God is the primary agent in the verse. Three times, He is referenced as the object around which the action is centered. He both supplies and maintains peace for those who set their minds on Him and trust Him. Next, man is the primary beneficiary. He is the one upon whom God graciously bestows the gift of peace. God makes available what man cannot attain on his own: true peace, perfect peace or peace-peace, as written in the original Hebrew text. The apostle Paul characterizes it “as a peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

Then, the verse reveals that peace is the primary benefit. Among the many things we seek and desire, peace is paramount. We learn very quickly in life how weak and vulnerable we are. We lack complete control of our existence and are subject to circumstances beyond our control. Peace with God is necessary to finding peace with others and with ourselves. Thankfully, God gives us peace when we subject our thoughts, minds and lives to Him. Finally, trust is the primary condition that makes peace possible. The ability to believe, to have faith in and to rely upon God is required to access His gift of peace. When we give up control of our lives and turn to Him in humble faith, we have the assurance of divine assistance. God, not ourselves, must be placed at the center of our universe. Only then will we avoid the chaos, frustration and depression that follow a narcissistic and selfish existence. In this world of uncertainty and turmoil, look to God and embrace His perfect peace.

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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