On Peace and Mental Strength


You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
—Isaiah 26:3 ESV

I’m reading How Children Succeed by Paul Tough. One of the startling study results noted in this book is that stress may be the major difference between a child that learns and one that doesn’t. Remove stressors from a child’s life and brain function kicks into learning gear. Add stress, and it shuts down. Memory and recall suffer. The difference between the smart kid and the not-so-smart one in any classroom may have little to do with the smart one going to some tony pre-preschool and everything to do with the not-so-smart kid being bounced between relatives and getting smacked around. So if you’re thinking about having your 4-year-old tutored in pre-algebra, perhaps give her more hugs instead. Seriously.

Another fact from the book discusses the reality of modern life that our stress levels are through the roof and unceasing. While “olden day” stressors such as evading enemies cause a needful surge in stress chemicals within our bodies, that kind of physical stress is wholly different than mental stress. That latter kind, which is part and parcel of modern living, doesn’t spike and then fade like the evading enemies kind does. Instead, it persists and causes all sorts of longterm damage within the body.

In short, our American lifestyle is packed with mental stressors that ruin our health–and make us forgetful and stupid.

Jesus said this:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
—John 14:26-27 ESV

Holy SpiritPeople often quote the second half of that verse alone, but in separating it from the first half, we lose meaning. The promise Jesus makes is that He is leaving, but the Spirit is coming. His Spirit will quicken His disciples to remember. He gives them peace.

In breaking up that passage, we divorce receiving the Spirit from peace. But read that passage again; the two are linked.

The world can’t give us the Spirit. The world can’t give us peace. God can do both through His Son Jesus.

Note also how the Spirit helps us to learn and remember. While the world’s stressors make us forget, the Spirit counters that mental erasure.

Want more peace in your life? Want to be sharper mentally? Ask God for more of the Spirit of Jesus. Learn what it means to live by the Spirit. Sadly, it’s almost a lost art to live by the Spirit and not by our human understanding or wisdom. The things of Man fail; the things of God do not.

Cultivate the Spirit and you will know peace—and be strong in your thinking.

4 thoughts on “On Peace and Mental Strength

  1. linda

    Hi Dan,
    I’m in a trial right now with my faith. My spousal support is coming to an end next month. I will be on my own to support myself. I’m at odds with some family members, I took on two room renters to share my kitchen, dining and laundry room. I was slagged through four years of court legal battle with my former husband (mostly as a self-represented party). This length of time happens when the court puts a party into Case Management. It’s really case abuse. Lots and lots of work needed here. New learning against a system that wants a person to understand little of what they are doing in the legal realm. This is protectionism for lawyers, and of course eliminating having to deal with unprepared and unknowledgeable parties in the court system.

    I’ve had stress, and continue to have some stress in my life. It’s taken its toll on me, but, God is able to bring me to emotional health again. Through these times we learn where our trust is. This strengthens us and encourages us.

      • linda

        Thank you Dan, I am thankful that you prayed for me. I called out to God recently when I realized that I was going to need to go for help in my recovery. By help I mean ‘counseling’. I’m too isolated.

        I cried out to God, feeling miserable for myself. ‘I don’t have a good friend’. Funny, when I got to church on Sunday I met two women who want to continue contact with me. A female ‘padre’ in this area for the summer and a black woman who’s husband is an usher at this church. So much for that complaint of mine. I barely got the words out of my mouth to God in prayer before I had possible friends coming my way.

        I’ve struggled with this idea of supporting myself. It put me into a panic so to speak. I was a stay-at-home mom for 20 years during my marriage. Now as I am coming closer to this reality I’m ‘seeing’ better. I ‘see’ that my house can be fully paid for by January. This will help considerably even though my house payment is small right now. I ‘see’ that my boarders will pay the cost of my utilities and perhaps my house taxes.

        ‘O ye of little faith’. Isn’t that what the Bible says? The unknown is a hugh mountain for us, but reality is, God can make a way.

  2. linda

    Hi Dan,
    you quoted this verse in your post,

    “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”.

    We recognize here in this verse that the Holy Spirit is his own person. ‘He will teach you all things’ this verse says. The Father is going to send ‘him’. Although our God is one, I think we have to be aware that the Father is not sending ‘Jesus’s spirit’. The Father is sending the 3rd person of the godhead to earth in his ‘name’.

    The Father sent the son also. Now everything flowing between heaven and earth ‘goes through Jesus and his name’, so to speak. It is the Son who is going to judge. It is the Son who saves. It is the body of Christ that we are brought into. We are the children of God through Jesus.

    The Holy Spirit points to and exalts Jesus on earth. We pray to God through the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus, etc. We can’t separate the Holy Spirit from Jesus here on earth but we have to recognize that the Holy Spirit is his own ‘person’.

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