“We are living in troubled times.” This is a phrase I hear often. It is usually followed by “Lord, come quickly.” These statements are not false. But I’m not sure if our desire for the Lord to take us out of these difficult times is what Jesus meant when he told his disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1).
As believers, we can look to the return of Christ with great expectation and anticipation. But a sense of peace isn’t only a future promise. Jesus told his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (John 14:27).
He didn’t say, “My peace I will give to you.” He’s promising peace here and now.
When I’m filled with angst over something like whether or not bills will get paid, or how to respond to conflict in family relationships, or what to do when there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day and some of the most important things slip between my fingers—it’s hard to think of Christ’s return as a present comfort.
Did Jesus really mean for us to look at our present troubles and long for his return so that we could be removed from these situations? Is this the peace he gives us to withstand the troubles we endure every day?
Trouble seems to just be part of life. We are troubled by the big things and the little things, but Jesus tells us not to let our hearts be troubled. But how do we find true peace in the midst of difficult circumstance?
Here are four ways to “let not your heart be troubled.”
1. Rely on the Holy Spirit to Teach You Peace When Your Heart Feels Troubled.
In John 14, Jesus told his disciples that he would be leaving them. And they were frantically trying to figure out who, what, where, when, and why. The idea of Jesus leaving and them not being able to go with him was enough to wreck them.
But Jesus said, “My peace I give you.” The peace he is referring to is the Holy Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit who would teach them and remind them of the things Jesus said to them.
This is the same promise we have. The Holy Spirit will work in our lives to bring peace in the midst of turmoil. We need him to teach us peace.
We often desire an “action step” that we can physically enact. But finding peace is not our own doing. We need the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts and minds to teach us peace.
Relying on the Holy Spirit can be more challenging than actively doing something to create peace in our hearts. But the peace Jesus is talking about comes from outside of us and our ability to create.
2. Actively Remind Yourself to Not Be Troubled.
In light of the understanding that we can’t fabricate peace in our own lives, we should be intentional about reminding ourselves that we need peace in place of our angst.
There have been moments in my life where I’ve found myself sitting at the table staring at my bank account and the many bills that need to be paid. Instantly my heart begins to race, and worry seems to suffocate me. It’s in this moment that I need to be reminded that my heart should not be troubled. I have literally told myself out loud, “Let not your heart be troubled. God will care for you.”
In these moments, we need the truth of Jesus to interject and break through the fear and trouble. We can actively remind ourselves of this truth by speaking it in our minds or out loud.
3. Stop and Pray Immediately and Consistently.
One of the healthiest ways we can ease our troubled hearts is to pray.
Prayer is a time to pour out your craziest fears to Jesus. You don’t have to hold back about the things worrying you, even though you know they shouldn’t. It’s not a time to clean yourself up and get your act together. You can freely fall apart and share the things you would never dare to utter out loud.
Yes, he already knows what you’re thinking, but he wants you to lay your burdens at his feet. And to lay them at his feet, you have to actually share them.
You might find yourself going back to prayer again and again for the same worry. That’s a good thing. I always love the idea of praying about something and letting it stay there, at the feet of Jesus. But it normally pops back up in my mind and goes on a rampage. Pray as often as you need to wherever you are.
I have often found myself lying wide awake at night concerned about some minor thing that I need to take care of tomorrow. At 2am, there’s nothing I can do about it. So I just pray for God to help me set it aside for now and remember tomorrow.
It doesn’t matter how big or small your worry is. Give it to him in prayer. And when you pray, truly pray. For me, it means stopping. Yes, I can say a prayer while I’m driving on the freeway or while I’m sending out an email, but my whole self is not focused on that prayer. I’ve learned that I need to actually stop when I’m able. Allow yourself to truly be in the moment and surrender your trouble to Jesus.
4. Use Scripture to Remind Your Hear of God’s Promises.
If we believe the Bible is the revealed Word of God given to show us how to be like Christ, then we should use it often. We shouldn’t know only the general truths of Scripture, such as “God will care and provide for you.” We should actually know how he promises to care for us and provide for us.
The greatest defense against worries that bubble up daily is Scripture. It’s through the Word of God that our minds are renewed. We begin to wash our thoughts with his truth and rid them of the falsehoods we concoct in our own minds or what others tell us to believe.
That’s why God called his people to put his Word in their hearts and to write it on their minds (Deuteronomy 11:18).
The word of God has power. For that power to be active in our lives, we have to actually know the Word. Try memorizing a few verses and speaking them aloud. In those moments of trouble and worry, you’ll be ready to renew your heart by speaking Scripture to yourself.
Jesus never intended for our hearts to be worried and troubled. Is it part of life? Yes. But it’s not a place we have to live. You and I can look to Jesus for a present peace in the midst of trouble.
One day, when Jesus returns, we will be free of all trouble. But we don’t have to wait until that day to rest in his peace. Let not your heart be troubled, today, in the here and now.
A version of this article originally appeared here.