The Attributes of God in Biblical Counseling: Peace

attributesOurs is the “age of anxiety.” The number of Americas with anxiety is astronomical. So, when God reveals Himself as the God of peace it should give us some pause. This attribute of God can be a means to real hope and help for those struggling with chronic worry.

The Bible tells us not just that God possess peace, but that He is peace. Like all of God’s attributes, He is the very essence of this characteristic. n several places Paul identifies God as the “God of peace” (Rom. 15:33; 2 Cor. 13:11). That is, He is identified by peace; it is embedded in his very nature. More pointedly, perhaps, Jesus is hailed as the “Prince of Peace,” again a moniker that identifies Him with the attribute (Isa. 9:6). Even when God promises us peace He does so with rather unique language, speaking of “my peace” (John 14:27; John 16:33). Peace is connected intimately to Jesus and our experience of peace is connected intimately to our knowing Jesus. Peace is not merely some attribute God possesses, it is part of the essence of His nature.

The significance of this cannot be overstated for us as believers. As a counselor I regularly assign counselees the task of meditating on the attributes of God. Meditating on the “God of peace” in particular can fuel a level of trust and confidence that is grounded in who God is and His relationship to us. This is precisely why Peter directs us Godward when he addresses the subject of anxiety with the Christians in Asia Minor.

There are all kinds of reasons why a person might suffer from anxiety. There are biological and biochemical reasons (heart arrhythmia, imbalances in thyroid, etc.) that need medical treatment to be addressed. Yet, where the causes may be psychological/spiritual the Bible’s solution is to look to the “God of peace.” Peter says it this way:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

The passage outlines a path to peace that is grounded in the character of God.

Peter urges the anxious Christian to start towards peace by resolving to “humble” themselves before God. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly to some, anxiety can actually be a very arrogant emotion. It assumes that we should be able to control more than we are. It assumes that we should be able to manage our world perfectly. It assumes that we should be super-mom, super-dad, or super-pastor. We think we can accomplish it all, do it all, handle it all, and the anxiety comes as a result of not being able to control our world the way we thought we could. So the demand to “be humble” is a right demand from Peter. If anxiety is related to pride, to control, then the first step in addressing it is rooted in knowing the God of peace and humbling ourselves before Him.

The more we know of this God, the more we can access the peace He gives. He adds that we can “cast” our anxieties upon Him because “He cares.” The God of peace is also a God of love.He is peace and love and these two things fit together perfectly.We can rest at peace when we surrender the control to this God of love. He gives peace when we surrender to His loving Lordship. The anxious person can find comfort and reassurance in coming to God. His character brings calm to the anxious soul. His character fuels our own resting. The attributes of God are active in that as He communicates Himself to us, the divine essence is communicating peace to us. God is peace, and those who know Him find they too can have peace.

As a counselor I find that reflecting on God’s peace is often a means of great joy and comfort for people. I want the people I help to know that God so identifies with this attribute that He calls himself “our peace” (Eph. 2:14). As they get this and fix their minds on it, God says He will move us towards peace (Isa. 26:3). There are many things that we can and must do to help fight anxiety (I talk about many of these things in our new Transformation Studies DVD Curriculum, reserve your copy here), but if we don’t first know the God of peace none of them will amount to true and lasting help. Biblical counselors can point to the God of peace and in so doing encourage their counselees to rest confidently in hope.

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