We all long for peace in our lives. But in this chaotic world it may seem elusive. How does the Bible define peace and how can we experience it in our marriages?
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” – Isaiah 26:3
For the past six weeks as we’ve studied emotions and how they affect our marriages, we’ve seen what God’s Word has to say about them. And we’ve looked at specific emotions that we consider negative–fear and anger–and those we consider positive–love and joy.
We want to conclude this study on a positive note, so this week we will study what God teaches us about PEACE. And peace is certainly important to our marriages.
The Truth about Peace…from God’s Word
Jesus and His disciples had been extremely busy that day in and around Capernaum. Jesus had healed a leper, a centurion’s servant, Peter’s mother-in-law, and many others who were sick and demon-possessed. He had also taught a large crowd (Matthew 8:1) that followed Him everywhere He went. As evening came (Matthew 8:16), a tired Jesus concluded His ministry for the day.
We read what happened from there in Matthew 8:23-27: “Then he 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!’”
Peace is what Jesus experienced in the account above as he slept in the boat during the furious storm. But His disciples experienced the opposite. They experienced fear—another emotion we discussed earlier in this series. It’s fear that we probably would have felt in that situation. And it’s fear that we often experience in our marriages.
But God wants us to experience peace in our marriages–for our sake and for the sake of His Kingdom. Our marriages are an illustration to the world of His relationship to His people. So it is important that we show the world the peace He desires to bring by having peace in our marriages.
On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus prepared His followers for what was to come in Jerusalem. Perhaps He was reminding them of the experience in the boat when He said to them in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (bold mine).
What a wonderful promise and encouragement to His disciples. And what a glorious promise and encouragement to us and our marriages. Not that He needs to say more about peace, but He does.
What else does God have to say to us about peace? We will get to that. But first – as we have throughout this study – let’s see how the world defines peace.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary first defines it as “a state of tranquility or quiet” such as “freedom from civil disturbance” or “a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom.” The second definition is “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.”
Once again feeling is important in these definitions. So is source. Notice that in the first definition peace is “provided for by law or custom.” As we have stated throughout this series, these are not unimportant. But these are not the ultimate meaning or source of our emotions.
Only God brings genuine peace. Remember Jesus’ words in John 14:27: “My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives” (bold mine). Jesus also teaches that His concept of peace is different from our culture’s. In John 16:33, He says: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (bold mine).
The word translated as peace in this passage, and throughout the New Testament Greek, is “eirene.” The word used in Old Testament Hebrew for peace is a word you have probably heard before–“shalom.” These words mean to be in a state of wholeness, fulfillment, tranquility, security, and well being. Among individuals it describes living in harmony with one another. Is this not exactly what we want in our marriages?
There is only one way to have that kind of peace in our lives and marriages. We read about it in Isaiah 26:3-4: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal” (bold mine).
God keeps us in peace no matter what circumstances arise in our marriages. We experience God’s perfect peace when we follow what He teaches us in Hebrews 12:1-2: “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
Growing up in Miami, my family owned a sailboat and I learned the importance of ballast. Ballast provides stability to the boat in a rough sea. God is like that ballast in the middle of a storm. Steadfastness of mind is like the sturdy strength in a boat’s hull. Such balance comes from trusting in God and keeping our minds focused on Him and His Word.
Paul writes that we can experience this type of peace in our lives and marriages as we are stabilized by Christ. He writes in Ephesians 4:14-15: “…we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
Real peace is an emotion resulting from where we place our focus. It is not swayed by what is going on in our lives. First we must use our minds to focus on God’s love, faithfulness, and all the promises He gives us in His Word. And then our hearts–the biblical seat of our emotions–will respond with peace.
Just as the disciples discovered in that wave-battered boat, we must turn our focus to Christ and depend on Him. When we do, no matter how out-of-control and desperate our circumstances may seem, He will provide a calming peace in our lives and marriages.
As we come to the conclusion of this study, let me remind you of some important truths we have discussed over the last seven weeks. I pray that these will help you as you deal with feelings and emotions in your marriage.
First, God intends our emotions for good since He created them as part of who we are. However, we have been greatly impacted by the fall of mankind into sin, and so have our emotions. In other words, our emotions are tainted by our sin nature and, therefore, need to be controlled.
Second, emotions are not bad, but they can lead to serious harm if we let them take control. The Bible expressly teaches it is important that we learn to manage our emotions rather than allowing our emotions to manage us. We are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, not by our emotions. Denying or blaming our emotions for our actions is not godly.
Third, we should thank God for our emotions and manage them by growing in our walk with God. We do this by being transformed through the renewal of our minds. We read in Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
We renew our minds and are transformed through the work and power of the Holy Spirit. As we put the Word of God into our minds every day and share our hearts with Him through prayer, God’s Spirit uses His Word to teach us Scriptural principles. He also gives us a desire to grow in the knowledge of God, and He empowers us to put those principles into practice.
Fourth, fellowship with other believers is a vital part of our spiritual growth. We journey with fellow believers and help one another grow in faith as well as in emotional maturity. That’s why God tells us in Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Sharing our feelings with other believers can be helpful in managing emotions. God has given us the gift of our fellow believers who can share our burdens and whose burdens we share. When we spend time with them, our brothers and sisters in Christ can also remind us of God’s truth and perspective. Of course, we want to share our feelings with our spouse first, but talking with our fellow believers can also be helpful at times.
So, as we’ve seen, our emotions can be powerful and have a great impact on our lives. As we strive to control our emotions and use them for good based on the truths of God’s Word, He will strengthen our marriages and fill our lives with His love, joy, and peace.
Questions for Discussion
♦ Read this week’s teaching together. What has God taught you through it?
♦ Go over the four principles at the end of this teaching. Use them to review this series and discuss things you have learned and how you will use that to deal with your emotions. Discuss specific principles and how each of you will work on one or more to grow in your walk with Christ.
♦ Conclude your time together by praying for each other, including for those areas you will be working on this week. Commit to continue to pray for each other about this in the week ahead.
We have shared in the past some teachings from our friends Stephen and Brooksyne Weber, when they fit well with our studies. The Webers post daily devotionals on their website DailyEncouragement.net. Here is another one that fits well with the topic of peace: Lessons from Near Misses. And be sure to read the “Study Thought” at the end. It is powerful.
Next week we will begin a new Couple’s Bible Study series.
Until then, may God bless you in all His wonderful ways,
Other posts in the MARRIAGE AND OUR EMOTIONS series:
Part 1: More Than a Feeling
Part 2: What Can You Trust?
Part 3: About Love
Part 4: About Fear
Part 5: About Joy
Part 6: About Anger
All Scripture from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Photo by AndyTriggerRaw via pixabay (CC0), cropped/text added.