Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
— John 14:27
There is no more extraordinary gift than learning to feel at home in yourself. You can change everything about the world around you, but if you haven’t done the work on yourself, you will still feel imprisoned in your own mind. I think that is one of the primary reasons I encourage anyone to come out. The closet is a place for us to hide the internal war of who we are and to hide our inner self, and that internal war does not lend itself to inner peace. It is a war in which far too many LGBTQ+ individuals become casualties. Acceptance is the only weapon we can use to win this war.
Every time we check our phones or look at the news, the future seems increasingly uncertain. Whether it’s global conflicts such as the war raging in Ukraine, or the world-wide pandemic caused by COVID-19. The uncertainty also extends to our very being as LGBTQ+ individuals. As more and more states attack LGBTQ+ rights and our very existence, we may find it challenging to find peace amid these distressing circumstances. Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill was just signed into law by the governor of that state. Republican lawmakers in Arizona, Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, and South Dakota introduced at least nine measures this year that target transgender and nonbinary youths, such as their ability to participate in sports, receive gender-affirming care, or use the bathroom. There are constant movements in states dominated by anti-LGBTQ+ politicians to reverse gay marriage. It’s all extraordinarily disconcerting and adds to the internal struggles of many LGBTQ+ individuals.
This uncertainty has also crept into our daily lives, raising worries about our jobs, finances, friends, families, etc. Even as LGBTQ+ believers who know and love the Lord, we may find it challenging to truly be at peace during these times as people who claim they know and love the Lord attack our very being. For instance, take right-wing QAnon conspiracy theorist and U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado), who on Friday asked Twitter to explain to her why the law does not “require” LGBTQ+ Americans to wait until they are 21 years old to come out.
The ignorance is astounding! Sadly, this wasn’t even a sick April Fool’s joke, although Boebert is a fool on April 1st and any other of the 364 days of the year, for that matter.
Even with all of these assaults on our identity, the Bible assures us that the Lord has promised true inner peace. Two verses in the Gospel of John reveal the source of this lasting peace. In John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” In this verse, Jesus promised to give us Hispeace. As the Prince of Peace, He is the unique source of true peace, which is altogether different from what the world gives. No matter how impossible our outward circumstances may seem, we can enjoy true peace from Jesus, and we do not need to be troubled or afraid. John 16:33 says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Jesus never promised that we wouldn’t experience difficulties in our lives. He plainly said, “In the world you will have tribulation.” Although we’re saved, we still live in this world full of suffering and distress. But these words from Jesus should bring us comfort, assuring us that even during our trials, we may have peace.
How do we practically experience this true and lasting peace in our daily lives? The apostle Paul gives us the key in Philippians 4:6-7: “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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Social isolation, discrimination, job insecurity, financial obligations, and many other things fill us with anxiety. We can’t escape our problems, but we can experience the peace of God during them. By turning our hearts to God through prayer, we connect with Him, which results in something marvelous. When we have fellowship with God, we’re revived and refreshed. As we petition Him concerning our needs, God infuses us with Himself as peace. We’re turned from worrying about our situation to thanking Him. Our environment may not change, but we’re changed. The peace of God guards our hearts and thoughts, saving us from anxiety.
As we continue to live under trying circumstances, we can enjoy God’s peace at any time. Anxious thoughts may come to us throughout the day, but we have the key! We can turn our hearts to Him and pray, call on His name, sing to Him, or simply talk to Him. Through our fellowship with Him, God becomes our true inner peace and rest, the much-needed antidote to our easily troubled soul.