Our lack of peace is a cultural crisis—we truly live in the Age of Anxiety. Listen in today as I talk from personal experience about the peace of God and how the Apostle Paul says we find it. You don’t have to live in constant anxiety and fear—God sent His son to set you free!
Transcribed version of the podcast is below
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Ephesians 4:1-3
Resources Mentioned in Podcast
- MomStrong International
- Scripture Writing Challenge
- Essential Oils
- The Search For Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God’s Eyes
Scripture Mentioned in Podcast
- 2 Corinthians 11:23-29
- Philippians 4:11
- Philippians 4:4-13
Join us at MomStrong International for our newest Bible Study and Scripture Writing!
Hey everybody, this is Heidi St John. Thank you so much for joining me. Today is Wednesday, June 19th this is episode number 781. We’re going to be talking about week three from the MomStrong International Bible Study and I am calling this one: Peace in the Age of Anxiety.
Stick around, I think you’re going to be encouraged.
All right, so if you’re not following me over at MomStrong International, I want to encourage you to do it. This is the time of the week, Wednesday, when I go through the Bible Study. And for the summertime we are studying the fruits of the Spirit—and just really trying to unpack what God’s heart was in giving us these fruits of the Spirit, these evidences that God is at work in us. And so, I hope you guys are digging in with me. Today is a great opportunity for you if you haven’t joined us yet. If you’ve not downloaded the study, if you haven’t joined MomStrong International beyond the Scripture Writing Challenge, summertime is a great time to do that because we don’t have….well I do because I’m writing a book and I’m traveling. Wait, am I going to get a break? I’m looking at my engineer—not in the foreseeable future.
Well, today is a really good opportunity for all of us to get into the Word of God regardless of how busy we are. The Bible teaches us that we need the Word of God. We need it. It’s a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. And also when you join MomStrong International. You can bring your kids into it with you. They can do the KidStrong section. There’s a Scripture Writing Challenge in cursive over at MomStrong International for the Bible Study section. And we would love to see you become a leader. You can lead an MSI study group in your church. You can lead one in your neighborhood, at your Homeschool Co-Op—I am just thrilled to see so many of you really wanting to study God’s Word. Timothy was instructed by Paul to study, to show himself approved unto God a workman who does not need to be ashamed, who can rightly divide the Word of truth.
And at MomStrong International that’s what our goal is—to help you prioritize the study of God’s Word, to learn it, to love in it, and then to lead with it. And so this is a great time. Visit me online MomStrongInternational.com and you can download this study today. I only have, you know, 15 minutes to go over week three with you, but the study goes much further and in depth than I will be able to do here. And it’s an opportunity for you to really dig into and unpack the truths of Scripture that help us in everyday life. So we really need them. So MomStrongInternational.com.
Wednesday is my day to just say—hey you guys, are you studying the Word with us yet? So if you’re not yet get into it, summertime is a great time to do at MomStrongInternational.com.
All right, this is a really awesome week. We’re studying peace, right? We’re on week three now. We’ve been studying the fruits of the Spirit. We talked about anger, and today we’re really going to talk about peace. And this is a study that is near and dear to my heart, a topic that I have dealt with a lot in my life—because as many of you know, if you’ve been listening to me for any length of time, I have struggled with severe anxiety most of my adult life. And really the Lord has given me victory. It’s not that I don’t have days of anxiety, or moments where I feel anxious—but I’m not living with this constant knot in my stomach anymore. And a huge part of that healing was based on my walking with the Lord and allowing Him to replace my anxiety with His peace.
And peace is something that we all want. But really in the culture right now, I don’t see a lot of people with it. I feel like the tension in the culture right now so thick, you could cut it with a knife and we’ve got no issues even in our own homes. Let’s set the culture aside for a second. The chaos of children, the stress of marriage, and work, and daily life. I think that we’re more worried now than we ever have been. Even though you could argue that we live in the safest, most comfortable, technologically, and medically advanced society in human history—we are the most anxious. Studies show that even preschoolers and elementary age children are being diagnosed with anxiety disorders. And so it’s hard to think that peace in the culture could ever be a reality. But God teaches us that peace is not dependent on our circumstances.
Piece is the unmistakable sign of the presence of God in our lives. It’s like joy. Joy is not dependent on our circumstances. There have been many times in my life when I have been filled with an inexplicable, indescribable joy—in the midst of terrible struggles. And that’s because those are the fruits of the Spirit. Evidence that God is at work in us, that He’s moving through us, and that His Spirit is at work in us. So the Holy Spirit, this peace that comes from God, is woven into our character as we mature in our faith, right? And so this virtue, this peace, it grows and it brings with it freedom. Freedom from discontentment, freedom from ungratefulness, freedom from the battle to become somebody that we’re not. And we could spend tremendous amounts of money, right? Trying to achieve peace. And I’m telling ya—it’s an industry. According to the anxiety and depression association of America, the United States citizens spend over $42 billion a year in the treatment of anxiety disorders. And that doesn’t include the amount of money that we spend on vacations and relaxation so that we can reduce stress in our life, right? We get medication to silence the symptoms and pay for therapy to help us learn the tricks to achieving peace. And often these are very necessary and they’re helpful things to seek out. But our lack of peace is a cultural crisis. It is a spiritual crisis. We truly do live in the age of anxiety.
I wanted to address really quickly my own struggle with anxiety again, because I think it’s important for you to understand something. I am not knocking medication. I think medication sometimes is necessary. And certainly for me it was a very helpful at a point in my life when I was so broken on the inside that I could not quiet those voices long enough to even hear from the Lord. And so a lot of you are listening to this today and you’ve got a host of stressors in your life, right? You might have come from a dysfunctional family. Maybe you’re coming out of an abusive relationship or an abusive marriage—and you’re struggling with anxiety, and there is a place, absolutely, for getting professional medical help. I think there’s a place for getting counseling. We want to be getting counseling from men and women who know Jesus and who can give us biblical counseling. But as I talk about peace that comes from God, and living in an age of anxiety, and looking at pieces of fruit of the Spirit—I am in no way saying that I think medicine is wrong.
Here’s where I think it’s messed up. So I spent most of my adult life, until about five years ago, off and on anti anxiety medications. I think I tried every one of them in the book. My anxiety was so severe. And some of you are listening to this and you’re going—wait a second, I heard her speak at a conference 10 years ago. You didn’t look anxious to me. Well people can be very anxious and not look like it, all right? We are very good at hiding things. And part of the reason why I didn’t share my struggle with anxiety until about it maybe six or seven years ago, was because I was so concerned about what people would think about me. I thought—man, if they know that I’m struggling with anxiety, if they know that I have struggled with depression, then they’re not going to respect me, then they won’t listen to me. And you know what? That was a lie from the enemy. It’s the enemy who says that we can’t share our weaknesses. It’s the enemy that says that we should be more concerned about what people think of us, than about coming to the Lord and just saying—Father, help me. Give me freedom from this and in my life.
And it’s a long story, too long to go over today. I will just say that when I experienced the peace, finally, that passes understanding—it came after years of me crying out to the Lord and just saying—Lord, I need your help. I need your help. And it came after, not before, I was willing to just confess it to the multitudes and say—hey, this is it. This is the deal in my life. This is real. This is tough. And my kids have watched me, right? And our close friends have watched this, but my life has been so public that it just felt insurmountable to me. And I have never been more at peace. Not that we don’t have struggles, but a lot of things have helped me over the years. I read a book a long time ago called Search for Significance (I’ll link back to that in the show notes today) and on and off of the medications—but what it really was, was seeing myself the way the Lord sees me, and being able to put my life, and my past, and my future in His hands. And then leave it there. Because so often what we want to do is we want to take it with us. Lord, I’m worried about these things. I’m going to give it to you today. But then we don’t leave it with Him. We take it back again.
And nobody knows what it was like to suffer like the Apostle Paul. Listen to what he says in 2 Corinthians 11 starting at the second half of verse 23. Paul says, I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 2 Corinthians 11:23b-24
I don’t you guys know this, but 40 is considered a death sentence. So they gave him just enough to not kill him, right?
Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. 2 Corinthians 11:25a
This guy is actually kind of ruining the prosperity gospel right now.
Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger? 2 Corinthians 11:25b-29
You see, while writing the book of Philippians, Paul was in prison. He was facing torture and possibly execution. And yet look at the statement that he made in Philippians 4: I’ve learned the secret of being content and in every situation. And so really that’s what it comes down to. And so if you’re listening to this today and you’re going—I just, I can’t get out of this pit that I’m in. Yes you can. Yes, you can. The Lord will help you. It’s part of the reason why I speak about this so often. And it’s why I carry my essential oils with me. You guys have heard me talk about that. I think that God has given us the tools because trauma is real and nobody knew it better than Paul. Right? And he’s saying—I’ve learned that I can be content in whatever situation that I find myself in. And you’re going—wait a second, how can somebody who’s been beaten, tortured, starved, sleepless, homeless…How can he be content? I’m discontent with my kids misbehave. I’m frustrated when I didn’t get the relaxing evening that I wanted. And yet Paul is under constant physical, emotional, and psychological stress, and yet he’s at peace. How?
Well, I guess it would be easy for us to say—well, of course he can be at peace. He’s, you know, Paul. But before you guys start to think that contentment is a natural talent or something that we simply have because we’re amazing—I want you to look closely at this verse. He says he learned it. He learned the secret of being content. That means that it’s something that doesn’t come naturally, and this is absolutely what the Lord’s been teaching me in my life. I had to say—oh my goodness, Father, I’m anxious again. I gave it to you and I took it back. Show me how to not take it back. It’s a learning process. Psalm 85:8 NIV says, I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people.
See, God’s not going to put that in His Word if it’s not possible for children to attain, to achieve, to experience, right? God desires to give us His peace. He doesn’t say it’s going to be easy. That’s never the message of the Bible. In fact, Jesus said in this world you’re going to have trouble. But guess what? Take heart—I have overcome the world. I’ve done it and I’m going to continue to do it. And so even though it’s not easy and it’s not instantaneous, as we mature in Christ, we can step into a greater degree of contentment and rest as we learn to do everything through Christ who gives us strength, right? So the juxtaposition of Jesus becoming our peace and breaking down every wall at the cost of Him bearing the wrath of God the Father on the cross is a hard reality. But this reality can bring us to a place of really grappling with a deep cost of salvation. God sent His Son, Jesus, who died on the cross for us—so that we would be set free.
And if we don’t take the full instruction of God’s Word and reconcile His love and His anger—then we sell salvation short and Jesus died in vain. So let’s love them enough to learn the whole counsel of His Word, not just the parts that are socially acceptable. And in this way, we honor His sacrifice to create peace for all of us. So I’m going to look really quickly at Philippians 4:4-13. So if you’re listening to this and you’re studying along with me at MomStrong International, I’m about on page 43 right now. So I’m down in the study. So when you download the study, you’re going to get a month at a time. I’m on week three, which is why I’m on page 43. So if you want to follow along with me that’s where I am.
I know a bunch of you are doing this in groups, so I’ll give you just a second. Philippians 4:4-13 here’s what it says— Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Phillipians 4:4-11
Notice he doesn’t say the peace of God might be with you. He says, the peace of God will be with you. Paul is not just telling us that he has it easy, he’s telling us how to get it. He’s telling us how to get it. So what is he saying to do in this passage? The first thing he’s saying is rejoice always. He doesn’t say rejoice when things are going great. He says rejoice always. Now there’s a difference between going—Yay, I’m just so happy that I was in this car accident. Or, I’m just so happy that I got this unexpected bill…like Jay and I right now dealing with them in massive water problem in our home. Two years ago it was the pipes outside our house, had to dig a big trench in the middle of winter, run a whole new line. And then we just learned about a month and a half ago that every pipe in our house has to come out, has to be re-piped. It is expensive.
And I was so frustrated. I was like—well, I guess we’re going to have to take out a loan. I mean, who’s got that kind of money just sitting around? And I started to get frustrated, and Jay so rightly reminded me… he was like—Heidi, the Lord has always provided for us, always provided miraculously. So let’s rejoice because God’s going to show Himself faithful again. And that’s what Paul is saying. Rejoice always. He’s in the middle of your suffering, in the middle of your struggle. Let your gentle Spirit be known to all because—why?, because the Lord is near. And then he goes on to say: don’t be anxious about anything. Now to know about you, but that’s a tough one for me. Be Anxious for nothing? So that phone call I get that I didn’t want to get, that sin struggle that I know that my child is struggling with, that issue in my marriage that I’m concerned about, this financial thing that’s in front of me—be anxious about nothing?
Yep, that’s right. “Yeah. You right.” As my daughter Sierra would say. Be anxious for nothing. But hear is his instruction—But instead by prayer and supplication…supplication meaning letting the Lord know what you need…with thanksgiving. So Father, here I am. This is my need. Thank you so much that I can trust you. Thank you that you sent Your Son. Thank you that you love me. Thank you that you’re good—and you let your requests be made known to God. And then as a result of that, the peace of God, which the Bible says surpasses our understanding—will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. And that guard that the Lord sets there is what keeps us from going off the rails. It’s what keeps us walking in right relationship with Him.
You guys just as important stuff. We want to be walking in such a way that our lives say that we trust the Lord, that we believe that His Spirit is in us and that He will never let us down—and He never will.
All right, this is so good. And speaking of good, the verse today from the MomStrong International Scripture Writing Challenge is found in Ephesians 4:1-3—I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. That is God’s heart for you. Lean into it today, you guys, lean into it. God wants to set you free. He came to set you free—free from your anxiety, free from your fear. He wants to replace that fear with His peace and it really is miraculous.
Hope you guys are enjoying this study. You can download this study and dig into it even deeper at MomStrongInternational.com. And also, when you subscribe to the Bible Study—that $8 a month is going a whole long wait to helping us write these Bible Studies for you every month and get ’em out there. We’re just thrilled to have you join us.
The next episode at the amazing Dr. Duke Pesta who is the president and founder of the Freedom Project Academy—and he does some amazing videos online, exposing a lot of things happening in the culture, and really bringing clarity to it. He is going to be on the show with me on Friday and you are not going to want to miss it. So come back on Friday and let’s see my guest Dr. Duke Pesta. In the meantime, you guys cast your cares on the Lord for He cares about you. Have a great day, you guys. I’ll see you back here on Friday.
Write to Heidi:
Heidi St. John
c/o Firmly Planted Family
11100 NE 34th Cir, Vancouver, WA 98682
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