“I love to work for God in the daytime, and at night to lie down under his smiles,” Sarah Edwards (wife of theologian Jonathan Edwards) once commented.
What a beautiful statement! And yet, for several years, I struggled with it. I desperately wanted to be able to say I felt God smiling at me, and yet my experience was far different. Every night as I went to sleep, I thought back on how much I had failed that day. Even if I hadn’t committed any “big sins,” I was still nothing close to the kind of Christian I wanted to be. So, night after night, I told myself I would try harder the next day, and perhaps someday I would feel God’s smiles.
How wrong I was! Although I knew in my head that we are saved by faith alone and no works, I was living as if my performance merited God’s smiles. So if I didn’t have a long enough quiet time, or think of him enough through the day, or love him perfectly, then he must be displeased with me.
It was Romans, especially Romans 5:1 that helped set me free: “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” As that truth slowly sunk into my mind – and my life — I began to understand that through Christ, I am already at peace with God! His smiles are on me, regardless of whether or not I had a perfect day, because He sees only Christ’s righteousness on my behalf.
Christ, the “Prince of Peace,” has come to give us something far greater than a world without war, or unified politics, or lack of family conflict. He has reconciled us to God. And if I am at peace with God, I can have inner peace to face whatever conflict living in this broken world entails.