The ship’s captain called for Mr. Spafford to come. “This is the spot of the shipwreck,” he said to him. Horatio Spafford stared down at his four daughters’ watery grave and then wrote the words to “It is Well With My Soul.” How could he pen the lyrics, “When peace, like a river, attendeth my way?” Is constant peace of mind possible, even in a time as painful as this? He believed it.
The telegram said, “Saved Alone.”
The death of Horatio Spafford’s daughters was one more tragedy in a series of tragedies.
An attorney and real estate investor, Spafford lost a fortune in what is known as the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Soon after, his little boy, only four years old, died of scarlet fever. The family was reeling. Why not take a vacation and get away from it all?
Spafford sent his wife and four daughters ahead to England on an ocean liner, hoping to join them after finishing business. However, the ship sank due to a collision More than 200 people died. Spafford’s wife survived while all four daughters perished. She telegraphed home: “Saved alone. What shall I do?”
A testimony to the possibility of inner peace
As heart broken Horatio Spafford headed for England to unite with his wife, the words to one of the classic hymns of the Church poured from his spirit onto paper:
“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll –
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul.”
It’s hard to imagine more pain than losing five children, his fortune, and escaping a great fire in such a short space of time. Yet, he seems to be saying in these words, “No matter what is going on in my life, in my soul, my heart and mind, I have supernatural peace with Jesus Christ. He has taught me how to have it.”
I know many would like to find that same inner peace that Horatio Spafford had.
Peace of mind meaning
In a moment, I am going to briefly list 7 spiritual truths about finding inner peace. But first, what is peace of mind?
If you google that question, immediately a definition from the Berkeley Well Being Institute comes up which says this:
“Peace of mind is defined as a mental state of calmness or tranquility. It may also include freedom from worry and anxiety. When our minds are buzzing with thoughts, it can be intense and overwhelming. We just want some peace of mind, which is to say we want a calm, relaxed, and content mind.”
Peace of mind is staying inwardly serene even when the whole world may be crashing down around you. it doesn’t mean having no feelings of sadness. Peace of mind is staying calm and trusting God despite all that is happening in your life.
The things that disturb our peace
Horatio Spafford faced the death of his children, and financial and property loss. These were awful yet there are so many types of storms that we can face in our lives.
I was reminded of this fact while reading the words of The Bible in One Year this past week. One reading talked about the challenges of life. Nicky Gumbel wrote, “You will face challenges in life. They will come in many forms; misunderstandings, disappointments, unfulfilled longings, doubts, trials, temptations, setbacks and satanic attacks.”
Continuing, he said, “Success, too, can be a test. There is also pressure, suffering, sickness, bereavement, sorrow, trauma, tragedy, persecution, and failure. Ultimately, all of us will face death…”
Life has so many storms. We can feel overwhelmed and, without the right grounding, be tossed and turned, filled with worry, fretting, and anxiety.
So, where can I find peace of mind?
I like something that Dr. John Delony wrote on the Ramsey Solutions website about peace of mind. He said, “The most important thing I can tell you about your peace of mind is this: It’s not situational. A lot of us look for peace of mind by trying to predict the future, by controlling everything and everyone, or by putting our faith in a political candidate who makes us feel safe.”
I would add others may try to hoard things, make as much money as possible, read self-help books, or medicate themselves in some way to feel calmer. But, there is a better way. I am going to share, now, the account of Jesus in the boat with the disciples during a “furious storm” and point out 7 truths for finding true and lasting inner peace from this story. I hope this will help you with your storms.
Jesus can calm your storm
From Matthew 8:23-27: “… Jesus “got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord save us! We’re going to drown!’
He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!'”
We’re taught many things through this story. You can think of “the boat” as your life, your work, your ministry. It symbolizes the central activities of your life. What we hear in this story is:
1. We are not alone.
Jesus gets into the boat, even before the disciples. They follow Him. And that’s a wise thing for all of us to do. To follow Him, keep our eyes on Him. There is a beautiful couple of verses from Hebrews 13:5-6 where it says, “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my Helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?'”
We need to understand that God is One, but He is also Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As we speak of God or speak of Jesus, or the Holy Spirit – we are speaking of One Being, the Lord who loves us. But, of course, Jesus came to live among us as a man, to help us see the face of God.
2. When the storm rises Jesus will help
In the Bible story, a sudden storm came up. The same can happen in our lives, but God is there, even if you are so consumed by the pain and the trouble, that momentarily you feel He is not there, or He is sleeping.
Jesus slept because He was in perfect peace. He is the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6). He brings His peace into our situations as He did for the disciples.
3. He is not alarmed or surprised
Jesus said to the disciples, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” He was not shocked by the storm, or truly disturbed by their panic. Jesus knew how to handle it all. He is not shocked or surprised by our storms, or by our need of Him in those storms. He is ready to help.
4. Prayer is a pathway to peace
The disciples cried out, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” What a simple cry, a very short prayer. But the Lord heard them. He awoke and prepared to come to their aid. As we pray and put everything in God’s hands, our peace returns and remains, whether we’re in an emergency room, in the doctor’s office, at the scene of an accident, and so on. Prayer is a means to maintain peace.
5. We can nurture our faith
Jesus, in this story, chided the disciples a bit for their huge fear and lack of faith. We can nurture our faith by remembering God’s goodness and help in the past. Thinking about the times He has carried us keeps us in peace because we know, He is good and will do it again.
Jesus at a later point in Matthew is recorded as telling His disciples how their opponents might persecute them. But, even in that, they could remain peaceful by remembering who God is. Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)
Remembering God’s goodness, and dwelling on scriptures like this keeps us in peace as we nurture our faith.
6. God answers and restores peace
Jesus stood up and rebuked the wind and the waves and they became completely calm. Nothing is impossible with God, scripture says. (Luke 1:37) We have perfect inner peace, too, when we have really absorbed this truth about God and believe it. We lose fear and anxiety as we see Him as the omnipotent God He is.
Psalm 46:1-3,7,10 says:
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in time of trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging….
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress…
He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.'”
7. Jesus commands the wind and waves
The disciples were amazed, watching Jesus’ command over the wind and the waves. “Who is this man?” they asked. God is sovereign over all things. He has the control. Knowing this can bring us great peace as we trust He is greater than anything we ever face. And, He is for us.
We, of course, help our state of mind as we get proper rest, eat a nutritious diet, and get exercise. If it is at all within your power to do these things, take good care of your body as that affects your mind. And, release all resentments and unforgiveness. Be grateful daily for what you have. This helps too.
But peace of mind certainly begins with and is maintained by our thoughts of God.
Two closing scriptures on mental peace
The Apostle Paul wrote two scriptures having to do with constant peace of mind being possible. I’ll close with these:
“Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Then Paul declared, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13
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