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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:2)
Grace to you. Grace has four different senses to it in the New Testament. The Greek word is (χάρις charis), which can mean 1. kindness, grace (Ac 15:40; Ro 16:24); 2. gift (Ac 24:27; 1Co 16:3); 3. thanks (1Co 15:57); 4. good will, favor toward someone (Lk 1:30; Ac 2:47). Here we are dealing with the sense of good that God freely gives, especially to the recipient’s benefit, which is a kindness that is not deserved. The free and unmerited favor, generous love, and kindness of God manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. It is given even though it is unearned and unmerited, driven exclusively by the generosity of God. – 2Co 6:1; Eph 1:7.
And peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. When we think of the Greek word (εἰρήνη eirēnē) rendered peace as to our Christian life, peace, harmony, tranquility; in certain contexts seen in the OT concept of the Shalom, i.e., welfare, health (Mt 10:34; Mk 5:34; Jn 14:27; 16:33; 20:19, 21; Ro 1:7; 5:1; 15:33; Gal 5:22; Eph 2:14; Php 4:7, 9; Col 3:15; Ro 10:15); 2. freedom from worry (Gal 5:22). Let us take a moment to establish what this verse does not mean. Should we understand that this verse or any others in Scripture teach that because we are wisely walking with God, he will miraculously step in to protect each servant personally from difficult times, diseases, mental disorders, injury, or death? No. These sorts of miracles are the extreme exception to the rule. Of the 4,000 plus years of Bible history, from Adam to Jesus, with tens of millions of people living and dying, we have but a few dozen miracles that we know of in Scripture. Even in Bible times, miracles were not typical, far from it. Hundreds of years may pass with no historical record of a miracle.
William Barclay wisely observes, “Christian peace is something quite independent of outward circumstances. People might have easy lives, living in luxury and off the fat of the land; they might have the finest of houses and the biggest of bank balances, and yet not have peace; on the other hand, others might be starving in prison, or dying as martyrs, or living a life deprived of comfort, and be at perfect peace. The explanation is that there is only one source of peace in all the world, and that is doing the will of God.” If we are wisely walking with God, we can be confident that bodily disease, mental disorders, injury, or early death are far less likely than if we were not. Moreover, we can draw on the resurrection hope. Does God miraculously move events to save us out of difficult times or miraculously heal us? Yes, he certainly can, but it is an extreme exception. He miraculously heals those who will play a significant role in his settling of the issues raised in the Garden of Eden.
God’s Word teaches us as it relates to peace if we walk by using discernment and exercising sound judgment from Scripture unless unexpected events befall us. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) We can be sure that we will not stumble into the difficulties that the world of humankind alienated from God faces every day. Conversely, the wicked do not have this protection, as they reject the Word of God as foolish. In other words, Christians live by the moral values of Scripture, which gives them an advantage over those who do not. Therefore, God answers our prayers by our faithfully acting on behalf of those prayers by applying Scripture in a balanced manner. If we have not taken in a deep understanding of God’s Word, how can we have the Spirit-inspired wisdom, the very knowledge of God, to guide and direct us in our ways? Just because we are not being rescued when we feel that we should, this does not mean that we have lost faith or that God is displeased. Even though Christians do not doubt that God is coming to their aid, they still experience grief, a lack of peace.
There is no doubt in the Christian’s mind that God will engulf him with his steadfast love, freeing him from anxiety, and giving him peace. This will empower him to praise God in song, and to offer a prayer of thanks ‘to the God of his life.’ (Psalm 42:8) Then, there may come a time amid distress the Christian slips, even though he views God as ‘his rock,’ a place of protection from one’s enemies. He might even ask, “Why have you forgotten me?” Yes, the Christian may be allowed to remain in his circumstances of sadness feeling depression. The Christian may feel as though life is treating him in an unbearable way. So malicious is Satan’s world and human imperfection at times that it could be likened ‘as with a deadly wound in his bones.’
It is not the troubles of the Christian which cause him to feel bad. It is what he tells himself that contributed to how he felt. Self-talk is what we tell ourselves in our thoughts. In fact, self-talk is the words we tell ourselves about people, self, experiences, life in general, God, the future, the past, the present; it is specifically all the words we say to ourselves all the time. Destructive self-talk, even subconsciously, can be very harmful to our mood: causing mood slumps, our self-worth plummeting, our body feeling sluggish, our will to accomplish even the smallest of things is not to be realized, and our actions defeat us.
Intense negative thinking of the Christian can lead to his feeling forsaken, resulting in painful emotions and a depressive state. However, his thoughts based on a good mood will be entirely different from those based on his being upset. Negative thoughts flood his mind, contributing to his self-defeating emotions. These very thoughts are what can keep the Christian sluggish and contribute to his feeling abandoned. Therefore, his thinking is also the key to his relief.
Every time the Christian feels down because of his irrational self-talk, he needs to attempt to locate the corresponding negative thought he had to this feeling. It is those thoughts that will create his feelings of anxiety and stress. He can change his mood by offsetting them and replacing them with rational thoughts. The negative thoughts that move through his mind will do so with no effort and are the easiest course to follow because imperfect human tendencies gave them that way of thinking, a pattern of thinking. However, the Christian can challenge those irrational thoughts of being forsaken with rational ones, saying that he would hope to God and that he would continue to praise him as, in the end, God is his salvation, even if that salvation comes in the form of a resurrection.
The centerpiece of it all is our Christlike mind. Our moods, behaviors, and body responses result from the way we view things (fleshly or spiritually). It is a proven fact that we cannot experience any event in any way, shape, or form unless we have processed it with our minds first. No event can depress us; our perception of that event will contribute to intense sadness, even depression. If we are only sad over an event, our thoughts will be rational, but if we are depressed or anxious over an event, our thinking will be bent and irrational, distorted and utterly wrong.
If we are to remain rational in our thinking, we need to grasp the fact that God does not always step in when we believe he should, nor is he obligated to do so. He has more significant issues that need resolving, which have lasting effects on the whole of humankind. There are far more times when God does not step in, meaning that our relief may come in the hope of the resurrection. However, for his servants that fully apply his Word in a balanced manner, God is acting in their best interest through his inspired, inerrant Word.
 William Barclay, The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians, The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002), 87.