7 Stabilizing Principles in a Chaotic World, Part 5


Read the series.

Number 5: Peace. God enables his people to have inner peace amidst outward turmoil.

I’ve been fishing this lake since I was 10—since Dad first took me out on his boat. I’ve been working it professionally since I was 16, 6 days a week, 12 hours a day—well, except when the weather was too bad. I’m a professional; I have enough sense to stay off the lake when the weather could kill you. And I’ve seen weather like that, more than once. But I have never—never—seen a storm like this. It’s sudden, and violent, and powerful beyond all my experience to deal with it. We’re essentially baggage, being thrown around the boat by a storm the likes of which we’ve never seen.

We’re toast.

And he’s asleep.

Seriously?! How does he do that?!

Peter would soon find out how he does that. In a few moments, shaken awake by lifelong sailors who think they’re about to die, he speaks a few words, and the storm is dead, the water calm, the threat just a memory, as if a dream (Mk 4.35-41).

He does that because he’s Lord. He’s in charge. There is no threat.

This summer I took my 5th trip into Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, one of the 4 premier safari locations in the world. On 4 of those 5 trips we’ve found lions. We drive up in our safari vehicles, to within perhaps 10 meters of the beasts, and we turn off the engines and just sit in silence, most of us taking photos as quickly as we can.

And what do the lions do?


They sit and stare across the plains, completely ignoring us. They may get up and walk around a bit, sometimes even rubbing up against our vehicles, but paying no attention to the people inside.

One year, it was a mating couple. Another, a female lion and 2 cubs. Another, 17 males sitting in the shade of a single acacia tree.

They ignore us. Why?

Because we’re no threat. The lion is the king of the jungle (and the savannah); he has no predators, and he knows it.

He’s at peace.

Now, the peace is deceptive; he’s capable of sudden, rapid, and brutal action. One year we saw a lioness take down a wildebeest literally 15 feet in front of our front bumper—eyes on us the entire time.

And that power is part of the reason for the peace. He has no need to fear.

Jesus is like that. He has no fear, because he has no predators. He’s in charge. He’s king of kings.

And as we’ve noted, he’s directing all that’s happening around us, to his own spectacularly good ends. And he intends for us to play a part in how it all turns out.

That means we have no reason to be afraid. We ought to be at peace as well.

But God knows our frame; he knows that we are but dust (Ps 103.14), because he’s the one who formed us from the dust in the first place (Gen 2.7). And so he knows that we’re going to be afraid, even though we have no reason to be.

So what does he do?

He doesn’t just say, “Stop being afraid”—though he does do that (Lk 12.32).

He gives us his peace. He bequeaths it to us, a gift from the one who always gives the perfect gift for every occasion.

Peace he leaves with us. His peace he gives unto us. Don’t let your heart be troubled, he says, and don’t let it be afraid (Jn 14.27).

Throughout the Scripture God tells his people not to fear their enemies (Dt 1.21; Dt 31.6), or their circumstances (Gen 21.17; 1Ch 28.20). Why not? Because I am with you, he says (Dt 31.6; Isa 43.5). Reach up, take my hand. I won’t let you be destroyed.

But he does tell us to fear—not enemies, not circumstances—but him.

Fear God, and keep his commandments (Ecc 12.13).

And be at peace, no matter how violent the storm.

Dan Olinger Bio

Dr. Dan Olinger has taught at Bob Jones University since 2000, following 19 years as a writer, editor, and supervisor at BJU Press. He teaches courses in theology, New Testament, and Old Testament, with special interests in ecclesiology and the Pauline Epistles.