At the request of my son and his wife, I have been writing a book about my life. I don’t believe my life has been in anyway exciting enough to justify a book, but this is not for the general public, for it will only be privately published for members of my family that would want a copy. Sometime in the future, maybe some great-grandchild or other relative might ask: “Who was that Ray Hermann guy?” — and they will be able to pull the book off the shelf and browse the different stories and pictures about who I was.
I have now entered the winter of my life, so I understand the suggestion of writing an autobiography, before I experience that final event — that inevitable visit from the grim reaper. (For an article on the grim reaper, see listing in References & Notes at the end of the article.)1 As I write the book, I wish I had books of my own parent’s lives to look at, now and then. I have some photographs, but no record of stories of their experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and dreams. I regret never saving those memories in some way.
My wife had her dad sit down once, long ago, and recorded his reflections of the pictures in a photo album. She then had that voice recording transcribed to text and pasted the descriptions with the pictures. That was a cool idea and it means a lot to her to have captions of his own words identifying the photographs, especially since he is no longer with us. But this book idea from our son and daughter-in-law is even better, as it will be in story form and printed in hard cover, so I am pleased to do it.
Anyway, the reason I am telling my readers about my book adventure, is because the most recent chapter I wrote is titled “What gives me Peace of Mind?” I thought that much of what I wrote on that subject would make a good article for this website, so here it is.
What gives me Peace of Mind?
This question deserves a philosophical answer. I will tell you what works for me in this age of increasing turmoil, but I believe it is important to understand what peace of mind is, and what it is not. Let me explain.
One dictionary describes ‘peace of mind’ as a feeling of being safe or protected. Another describes it as the absence of fear and its associated mental stress and anxiety. In this world of chaos, fear and stress and anxiety are difficult to avoid and someone suffering from these things is susceptible to illness and disease — this is a scientific fact.2The current distressing events in our society are increasing these problems and decreasing our peace of mind — and this makes us worry more.
Now, there are two types of fears. A fear of heights or the fear of a hissing snake can be helpful and possibly save your life, so those are good fears to have. But, it is the bad type of fear that is the concern here — the kind that conditions us to live a certain way. It controls our attention through conditioned responses. I guess that is similar to a government, a society, or some evil person, conditioning and controlling us. This is a kind of fear that produces unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Most people don’t know how to confront this sort of situation. Some are in denial, and some see the problem but do nothing about it. Others use various distractions, and some, if religious, resort to prayer. Those are the four main approaches most people use to gain ‘peace of mind’. So, how do I handle it?
There are a lot of people who go through life like an ostrich with their head in the sand, refusing to see any truth of a problem, because they are in denial. Personally, I have lived most of my adult years trying to find the truths of life, so denial is out of the question for me. Others see what is happening, but just don’t do anything about it. They blindly accept their situation and are like sheep that will follow others, even if they must jump off a cliff. I call them ‘sheeple’ — people who are docile, compliant, and easily influenced.3 Both these types of people increasingly feel the results of stress, anxiety, and fear as it piles on and gets worse. It is like doing something just because others are doing it, or being bullied in school, but never taking any action to solve the problem. They are always followers, never leaders.
Personally, I will accept many things, even if I don’t believe in them, but I don’t do so blindly. I understand what is happening, but if a reasonable law is enacted, I will obey it, unless it goes against God’s law. God is my protector, not any government or society. God’s law trumps man’s law. For instance, if a constitutional law says I must be quarantined inside my home, I will do so. I won’t like it, and as a distraction I will use the time to read and study or to do pleasurable and necessary things to pass the time (like writing this article), rather than break the law. But if I’m required by law to worship someone other than our Lord, that requirement is against God’s law, so I wouldn’t do it, even if it means trouble and harm.
But, the best and most successful approach for me is praying. When those fears seem to be stumbling blocks, I lean on God for support — I let him help me if I have any difficulty overcoming fear, anxiety, and mental stress.
I go to great measures to research our society, governments, and politics to understand what is going on and why. The Bible says “the truth will set you free” and it will. God has blessed me in many ways and one way has been to educate me in what his plan is for humanity. The Bible tells me why we are having these problems that cause stress, anxiety, and fear. It describes what is happening now and what future events can be expected upon this earth.
It also says that God will step in and stop all the wickedness in this world and explains how people can gain a life that never ends on an earth without evil. I have faith in this promise from God and I have faith in my prayers to him. It is my faith and prayers that give me peace of mind.
Yes, prayer and faith are the antidotes for mental stress, anxiety, and fear. To fear or tremble gives us the sense that our actions are controlled by another person, or entity, or situation, but confidence in the Lord removes intimidation. “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.” (Proverbs 29:25).4 And Psalm 34:4 says, “I sought the LORD and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
The Bible says worry is senseless, because it does not accomplish anything. In a letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul wrote: “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7).
The root problem with worry is a lack of faith, so I trust in God and pray to avoid being anxious or fearful. Jesus said, “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 14:27).
And the Old Testament has similar advice. One example is “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9).
“Most often in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word used for peace is shalom which denotes not only peace, but also a sense of well-being, prosperity, and wholeness. In the New Testament, the Greek word most often used for peace is eirene which also denotes prosperity and rest, but includes the idea of joining together as one.”5
God, through faith and prayer, can give us peace of mind, but he won’t do that if all we do is complain to him. As one author indicated, maybe we should “stop telling God how big our problems are and start telling our problems how big our God is.”6 And we can do that with the proper mind set.
This part of our life on this earth is just part of our schooling, for our education didn’t end after our first parents were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. We are now being taught that a spiritual life with God is like a train moving on railroad tracks. Once, when I used that analogy, someone told me that being forced along on the tracks was too limiting. They said that meant they had no choice as to where to go.
I had to explain there was no one forcing them to stay on the tracks; they could jump the tracks anytime they wanted. The tracks are only the path God wants us to travel (righteousness), but freely jumping the tracks may lead to destruction — sin and sorrow (unrighteousness). The tracks lead us in the right direction, but it is still our own choice to stay on those tracks or not. Stress, fear, and anxiety comes when we ignore Gods way. Personally, I want God’s direction, the one in which I have faith is the correct one, and I use prayer to keep me on track.
My peace of mind comes through peace in Christ and that is a good segue into our music video selection for this article. The song is “Peace in Christ” sung by Claire Ryann Crosby, who was only five years old at the time it was recorded. Selected lyrics are below. The video is listed at the end of References & Notes below.7
He gives us hope
When hope is gone
He gives us strength
When we can’t go on
He gives us shelter
In the storms of life
When there’s no peace in earth
There is peace in Christ
Copyright © 2020, Dr. Ray Hermann
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Reference & Notes
- Hermann, Ray, “The Grim Reaper & the Bible”, (The Outlaw Bible Student, OBS, 18 September 2019), https://outlawbiblestudent.org/the-grim-reaper-the-bible/
- The effects of mental stress, anxiety, and fear are heightened, because adrenaline is released from our adrenal glands, which increases our ability to physically react to an emergency. This process depresses our immunity at the same time and makes it easier for disease to affect us. This effect is cumulative.
- Rimer, Sara and Bennet, James, “Merriam-Webster Online,” (Merriam-Wester, Inc., 2015), https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sheeple
- All scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), ©2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The text has been used by permission. All rights reserved.
- “How can I find peace of mind?”, (Compelling Truth, retrieved 13 July 2020), https://www.compellingtruth.org/peace-of-mind.html
- “Peace in Christ”, Artist: Claire Ryann Crosby (and Dad), uploaded 30 March 2018 by The Crosbys YouTube channel ; Video by Modo Studios; (Author and score: Nik Day; © 2017, Intellectual Reserve, Inc., [no licensing listed; used under ‘fair use’ copyright for teaching under Section 107 of Copyright Act of 1976]) – MUSIC VIDEO: https://youtu.be/Waitmz6C100