Depart from evil, and do good. Seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14
A Psalm 34:14 Devotional
My head hurt. My heart raced. Stress left my stomach in knots as my mind reviewed the mess. There were pockets of time where distraction kept me occupied, but once the coast was clear, the rumination returned front and center for hours, days or weeks.
Years of compounded trauma and drama rendered me a nervous wreck. Peace was both imaginary and elusive, an exasperating combination of Santa Clause and luck – great for others, but pure fantasy to me.
But with four steps, it became possible.
Four Steps to Peace
These days, when my soul is in an uproar, I follow the four steps given in Psalm 34:14 to return to calm.
- Depart from evil. There is grace and repentance for the times we miss the mark, but we can’t expect inner peace if we habitually and deliberately sin. We understand this regarding outward, physical wrongdoing, but it also applies to internal lapses.
There is often an emotional tie when situations refuse to release – a hint of ego, a smidgeon of pride, some lack lurking beneath the surface- just enough leaven to affect the loaf.
The remedy: Get still. Go inward. What is really troubling you about this situation? Speak it, slay it and submit it to God.
Just a few days ago, my heart was churning over a situation. When I presented it to God in prayer, I realized a negative trait I’d folded into the issue. I was blanketed by peace before I finished my petition.
- Do Good. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines good as ‘virtuous, right, commendable’. It defines ‘virtuous’ as ‘morally excellent, righteous.’ What morally excellent and righteous thing are you withholding from this situation? Do you owe an apology? Is there a habit you must end or a practice you should start? Perhaps you’re giving precious energy to a matter that really doesn’t matter. Identifying and applying the ubiquitous WWJD? query is the necessary second step. Would Jesus take action or set this aside? Follow His example.
- Seek Peace. Focus on the outcome is another obstacle. If the end result isn’t the one we desire or if there is no guarantee that the other party will respond favorably, we freeze. Our focus is faulty when we conflate peace with a preferred ending. Step three is the acknowledgment that peace is the result of a correct decision, even when said decision makes our heart flutter.
Think of peace as steps on a staircase, not the landing. We’re tasked with keeping our focus on the step before us, not what happens at the end. Detach from the outcome.
- Pursue it. The final step is the ability to stay the course. While peace may descend instantly, as in my example above, it is also likely the sensation doesn’t land immediately. While it’s a nice accompaniment, the feeling isn’t the goal. Pursuit is both fluid and firm, employing grace and power. It is the willingness to face an issue and do the thing required for spiritual peace. It’s the opposite of blaming, hiding or falling back on negative patterns. It’s so worth it.
Pamela Nichols is author of the Inside Out series, Christian fiction that entertains and edifies. Her characters face painful issues that require more than ‘church as usual.’ She also provides editing and consulting services for new and experienced writers. Authors join her ‘Healing Words’ podcast to celebrate the language of healing and growth and to share the stories behind their stories. Visit her at www.pamelawrites.org or https://healingwords.callcast.co