I have a confession: I am a weakling. I grew up idolizing the tragic hero. The man or woman who has the deck stacked against them. The one who has every reason to believe they are going to fail, has every reason to be discouraged but still trudges on, does their duty, and fights the good fight. But I realized something, I am just not that guy. I constantly need encouragement.
Recently, my wife and I got home from church and our 10 month old daughter was in a foul mood (I never knew a baby could be so rebellious). She was screaming and carrying on and there was nothing we could do to soothe her. We were dealing with some difficult matters and having a very upset little girl on our hands was doing nothing to help our pain and anxiety. I was getting more and more discouraged until I finally prayed out to God, “Please give us some kind of encouragement; this is just too overwhelming”. But things continued as they were and, eventually, I started asking God “Why wouldn’t You do this for us? Why won’t You encourage us?”
At the end of the day, just before her bed time, I took my daughter for a walk to a park close by and we plopped ourselves down next to our favorite tree. As we sat there with the wind blowing through the leaves and sun setting, I was staring at my daughter as she looked around in wonder at all the new sights and sounds. It was music to my soul. God’s peace at last!
Walking back, I wondered how much of God’s peace I miss out on because I fill my life with noise and activity. My typical strategy for dealing with pain is to distract myself from it. I watch t.v., read a book, work on some project, anything to keep my mind off of the pain and anxiety. Bringing it before God and letting Him speak to me in the midst of it is usually a last resort. When David says of the Lord, “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:2-3a), he is talking about something deeper and more profound than “He helps me not think about my pain.” If I’m honest with myself, not only is my distraction strategy ineffective, it prevents me from receiving the gift that God really wants to give me: His Peace.