Find an Overflowing Peace When You’re Running on Empty

by Mark Batterson March 22, 2023
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 (ESV)

Can I make a confession?

The struggles, discord and losses of recent years have taken a toll on my life. Positivity is one of my strengths, but I recently found myself in a funk.

Here’s a journal entry from one of those down days when I felt like I was emotionally flatlining:

I’m so spent.
I’m so tired.
It feels like I’m running on empty.
I’m just not bouncing back.
My head is foggy.
My heart is irritated.
Lord, help me.

Maybe you, like me, long for a deeper sense of peace in this chaotic world. A deeper connection with God.

In fact, one of the truest longings of the human heart is for what is called “shalom,” the Hebrew word for “peace.” For Jewish people, “shalom” is a standard greeting that conveys a wish for health, wealth and prosperity. But the word means more than that. Shalom is the restoration of all things to their original intent. It’s the garden of Eden before the fall of humanity. It’s a dimension of reality that the Bible calls heaven.

We tend to think of peace as emotional equilibrium, and I don’t want to discount that internal dimension. But shalom is peace that passes understanding.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

In other words, it's a peace that doesn’t make sense given the circumstances. A peace not dependent on what is happening in the world around us. A peace in the midst of the storm.

But peace is more than an emotion. Peace is a person!

Remember the moment when Jesus stopped a storm on the Sea of Galilee? He rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Peace! Be still!” (Mark 4:39, ESV). Who does that? I’ll tell you who — the Prince of Peace! (Isaiah 9:6)

At its core, shalom is relational harmony, starting with a right relationship with God. It is the only thing that will fill that God-shaped hole in us. Or maybe I should say shalom is the byproduct of God filling our hearts — with Himself.

The first tenet of the Westminster Catechism says that our “chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” We usually get the glorifying God part, but the enjoying part is harder to grasp. It’s the conviction that God’s ultimate goal and our deepest desire are one and the same thing. As John Piper writes in Desiring God, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

How much are you enjoying your relationship with God? To grow in relationship with God is to enjoy His Word, enjoy His presence. It’s to enjoy everything that helps us draw near to Him.

Enjoying God might not feel possible to you right now if you are struggling with discouragement and anxiety, as I have at times. But the shalom of a right relationship with God — a sense of peace and ultimate well-being — is available to us. We can enjoy God, delight in His Word, and hold on to His hope no matter what is happening around us.

“Peace! Be still!” Jesus says in the midst of the storm. We can trust Him because He alone offers the shalom our hearts long for.

Lord, my heart feels raw and weary. I long for peace in me and around me. I long for the restoration of all things. Thank You for giving me this longing, for how it points to my need for You. I delight in who You are and how You have created me to find true satisfaction only in You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


For more insight on shalom and having a right relationship with God and others, read Mark Batterson’s book Please, Sorry, Thanks: The Three Words That Change Everything.

Mark is hosting an online Master Class the first week of May 2023 to dive deep into Please, Sorry, Thanks. We hope you join in! Learn more here.



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Mark 4:39, “And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” (KJV)

Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (NIV)

Mark’s journal entry included short statements of what he was experiencing and ended with a call to God for help. Write out your own brief journal entry or prayer about how you have been feeling lately, ending with a call to God for help.

What would peace beyond understanding look like to you right now?

© 2023 by Mark Batterson. All rights reserved.

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