Early on in my adult life I struggled with what it means to experience the peace of God in very hard situations. I thought the answer was all about saying the right things. When Melanie and I would face financial struggles, I would repeatedly recite verses about God being my Provider and insist I knew that when the time came that the money needed to be there, it would be there. Again and again, the time would come that I believed was the deadline and the money would not be there. It made no sense to me. Hadn't I stood on the promises of the Word? If my faith hadn't been enough, it certainly wasn't because I hadn't sincerely tried to muster up all the faith I could, to best of my ability.
Sometimes I would feel nervous about the outcome of a particular situation even though I was standing on the promises and boldly confessing in a way that would make any name-it-and-claim-it Christian proud. I saw the presence of nervousness or even anxiety about my situation as evidence that my faith needed to be stronger. I thought if I had real faith, I wouldn't have those negative feelings.
Through the years, after many disappointing experiences in having my faith not work and critically questioning myself about what I had done wrong, the Holy Spirit (the One Jesus promised would guide us into truth) began to show me that while I had been sincere, I had it all wrong.
Faith isn't a currency that we spend with God to get what we want or think we need. Nor does faith make something happen that we want to happen. Faith is the simply recognition of the loving care that our Father has for us in any and every situation.
Faith isn't in an outcome. It is confidence in a Person. I was sincere about "standing on the promises" but my understanding was wrongheaded. The Bible says that in Jesus Christ, the promises of God are "yes!" In other words, it is Jesus who is the fulfillment of every promise the Father has made to us. We don't stand on the promises. Instead we sit (rest) in the the One who is the fulfillment of all those promises. My faith isn't supposed to work. It's His faith that works! Paul said that, "the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal 2:20, KJV, emphasis added).
We aren't waiting for something to occur that doesn't exist. We are watching in anticipation to see what our Loving Father has already accomplished on our behalf. Faith simply sees Him and recognizes the reality that it's all worked out in eternity before it actually comes out in time.
Peace isn't the absence of nervousness. Paul told the Corinthians that he had been with them "in weakness and fear, and in much trembling." But he went there anyway, knowing that God had said He had many people in that city for Paul to yet meet. Paul felt fearful but knew that feelings aren't the thermometer of faith. So he acted bravely in the face of fearful feelings. It's sort of like what they say about courage not being the absence of fearful feelings, but rather a boldness to act courageously despite those feelings.
We can enjoy peace by knowing (not necessarily feeling) that our God has everything already resolved to His own honor and for our own good. If you are trying to work up faith for a certain outcome, you're going to often be disappointed and confused. If you rest in the faith of Jesus Christ, who is the One in whom you live and move and exist, you'll move through troubling situations much easier. "For He Himself is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14). God isn't worried about the situations we face, so neither should we be.
Authentic peace doesn't mean we have to chant mantras about faith. It doesn't mean we feel sure that things will turn out the way we want. What it does mean is that we rest in Him and know that however things turn out, it will be for our good and His glory.
God never eats antacids. He never bites His fingernails. He never has a nervous stomach. He has written a story - a beautiful story of your life. Whatever happens along the journey, He is in it with us and promises to see us safely through until we get home. When we get there, nobody will complain or ask why about anything. There we will see His loving protection and celebrate how good He was acting toward us, even in our hardest times.