Friday, 8 March 2013

Peace of God?

“There are lots of people who use their "sense of peace" as a way to confirm God's will in each of their decision-making. Does it mean that when I don't feel that peace, what I am doing is not in accordance to God's will?” (Dr Yap)

Mmm...human emotions can be misleading, which includes the so called "sense of peace". Using emotions to confirm God's will is like using a thermometer to measure the ozone layer or using a screwdriver to drill for oil. I am not saying it is not reliable. I am just saying that we have to be more careful and discerning.

Doing the will of God is often a very disciplined pursuit. It calls for self-denial, prayer and trust; not to mention faith and hope. It usually goes against the mainstream and that explains the sheer loneliness. At times, it is akin to lumbering in a dark sewage tunnel with no end in sight. So it is normal for one to experience a lot of emotional turmoil.

As an aside, I had a few divorce friends who once assured me that their ex-spouses were chosen by God after experiencing that ethereal sense of peace. But after the bitter divorce, they knew better and are now less cavalier about making such public proclamations.

I know it is tempting to do a post-mortem of their faith with the benefit of hindsight and conveniently accuse them of being led by self-will rather than by God’s. But, as imperfect beings, it is still a slippery slope proposition to rely solely on one’s subjective feelings as a definite sign.

Honestly, we all struggle with our faith. Doing God's will (or staying in it) can at times be very counterintuitive, anti-logical and faith-defying. So, emotions, like a floodgate, can take us on a wild ride.

Of course, there is the veritable peace of God that surpasses all secular understanding. But frankly, one cannot be so sure all the time even when one is performing His will. Many prophets of old had faced their garden of gethsemane and they literally cried out for internal confirmation of His divine mission. They too struggled in silence and in solitude. Ultimately they experienced an all-encompassing, warm blanket of peace as they travailed and prevailed to the end. But this biblical peace is not a sure thing that is easily discernible and readily prevalent at all times.

In the interim, my questions are, “what if we do not feel that sense of peace at the moment when we need it most? What if there are only doubts and confusion and our feelings are completely unsettled? What if such topsy-turvy emotion is part of the test of our faith?” Or, “what if that all too familiar “sense of peace” is self-conjured and self-endorsed to ferry us along to that land of the feel-good?”

So, is it always the case of “no peace equals no Will of God?" Or “got peace means got God’s will?” Is it that simple?

Maybe there are other ways to secure the ballast of security and hope when performing His will. Maybe at certain times, feeling or emotions are secondary to silent trust amidst the internal anxiety. Maybe at times faith is that agitator of emotions and the sense of disquiet experienced is that which ought to stir us into further action and hope. Maybe one should gather a community of faithful and like-minded believers to encourage each other to persevere; instead of waiting for that pampering feeling of peace to nudge us along.

So, it is a fact that emotions can lead us astray. It can be a mirage of peace that lulls us into a self-believing bubbled reality. We can mistake human serenity for God-bestowed invulnerability. We must therefore be wary not to so readily endorse a feeling of calmness as a sign from God that we are walking in His will. l think it is safe to say that our sense of peace should not be a standalone sign. Neither should it be the sole determinant. In other words, and this is by no mean a cookie-cutter view, peace should arise as a result of trust, faith and hope and not the other way around.

So, let’s hope that at all times, our trust is in a faithful God to carry us through regardless of how we are feeling at the particular time and place. Cheerz.

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