How to Tell if it’s Peace OR Relief You’re Pursuing FMTM

One of the most important lessons I learned in marriage was figuring out the difference between peace and relief. They seem so similar—like kissing cousins. And in some ways they are related. But I’ve discovered in my 29 years of marriage that . . .

When I pursue relief without pursuing God’s peace, I’m asking for trouble.

There were dozens of ways that I tried to pursue relief when my marriage was at its messiest and most painful.

I pursued relief by . . .

  • Getting a high from the angry rumination that I let run amuck in my head. (Yes, sadly, it felt that exhilarating!)
  • Pouring myself into my children so I wouldn’t feel so lonely in my marriage.
  • Bending over backwards for my friends, just so I could win their approval and praise.
  • Downing a quart of Ben and Jerry’s (among other delectable’s), just so I could taste some bite-sized pleasure.
  • Letting my heart and mind indulge secret crushes, so that I could feel desirable again.
  • Retreating into my “victim’s lair” where self-pity tasted as smooth as butter.
  • Spewing venom whenever my hubby pushed me over a line, so I could hurt him as much as I felt he was hurting me.

[Tweet “Revenge is indeed “sweet” for one brief moment then stings like a scorpion. #escapism”]

Those were all ways that I settled for a counterfeit peace through the sham of relief.

So how do I distinguish peace from relief?

First of all, I’m talking about God’s peace and not just freedom from conflict or pain.

Relief on the other hand is more about escaping some painful reality.

Ironically, God’s true peace comes when we trust Him in the middle of our harsh reality. I’ve found concentration camp victim Corrie Ten Boom’s words better illustrate what I’m trying to say here . . .

“There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.” ~Corrie Ten Boom

Corrie knew a thing or two about loss and unrelenting troubles. If you’ve never read her inspiring memoir, The Hiding Place, you should! She couldn’t have said these words without first going through the storm with God’s peace holding her firmly in the “eye” of that storm.

Secondly, God’s peace is different from relief because it passes understanding.

Both Phil. 4:6-7 and John 14:27 are incredible biblical examples of God’s promised but mysterious peace.

Relief makes sense, but the peace of God typically doesn’t. It’s other-worldly and far superior to relief.

Thirdly, peace is found when we trust and focus on God alone.

Relief, however, comes when I do what I want, consider only my priorities, and seek to protect myself or other loved ones through my human strength and wisdom.

In contrast, God’s peace comes when I surrender what I want to Him, let Him be my ultimate priority and focus, and trust His transcendent protection of everyone in my life.

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” ~Isaiah 26:3

So I keep my mind firmly on Him, instead of trying to manage or escape my problem.

Bottom line . . .
I know that what I’m saying is painful to hear, especially if you’re in the trenches of a terribly messy marriage. You think that leaving in some way—either physically or emotionally—is going to bring relief from the constant pain.

Well, you’re right, it will. But remember . . .

[Tweet “Relief is a temporary and counterfeit substitute for deep and lasting peace of God. #truepeace”]

If you’re escaping the pain in your marriage, you’re bound to feel that sense of relief because you’re getting the “monkey” off your back. But it’s just a matter of time before that “monkey” comes back in some other form, only next time he probably won’t be alone. He’ll inevitably bring several other monkey-like friends with him. 😉

Thankfully, pursuing God’s peace comes with no “Monkey Business!” You’ll also have the peace of knowing you followed God’s harder but better way.

And let me tell you from experience, God blesses that with so much more than peace, my friend! You’ll hit the “Father-load!”

What escapes have you pursued in an effort to find relief from your pain?


What are some examples of how God’s peace has far-surpassed relief in your life?


[Tweet “Christian bloggers, join us for another From Messes to Messages Linkup! #MessyMarriage”]

I’d love to have you join my private Facebook group going through the book of 2 Samuel starting Oct. 2. If you’re interested in learning more about this free opportunity click here.

Also, since many of the respondents to my sexual hangups and hurdles questions have asked about remaining anonymous, I’ve created a survey that will allow that anonymity. So if you’re interested in taking this four question survey and letting me use your anonymous answers in my once-a-month series, you can access the survey here. Thanks so much!

Joining with my friends at Giving Up on Perfect, Christian Blogger Community, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, Nanahood, Moments of Hope, Family, Friendship and Faith, DanceWithJesusFriday and LifeGivingLinkup.

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  • Beth, what wise words. There is a big difference between peace and relief, but I hadn’t quit looked at it like this before. Chocolate can be my false relief. But Jesus is my sweet peace.

  • Mary

    Thank you for wisdom rooted in God’s truth. I have never thought about the difference between relief and peace but what you say makes sense. God is the Keeper of Peace and in Him we will find the comfort we need. Blessed as always to spend time in this space.

  • pioneerpat1

    Very interesting. I always learn something here. Thanks for hosting.

  • Susan

    My mom’s favorite scripture (one of them) was Isaiah 26.3; I learned early in my walk with Christ that when I keep my mind on HIM – His peace truly does surpass everything, including temporary relief!!! Thanks for the linkup.

  • Beth, it occurs to me that it’s possible to manufacture a kind of “cheater peace” by not dealing with issues and just living in our separate bubbles. We get relief from conflict, but nothing gets resolved and God is not glorified by our supernatural reconciliation.

  • Beth, great post! I think it was John Calvin who said that the human heart is a idol making factory. We’re so much better at churning out those “false saviors,” when as you said so well, the real One is the only one who brings any real and lasting peace! Blessings, my friend! Thanks, too, for hosting.

  • Beauty in Christ

    This is so convicting; I have sought peace before in other ways, in comfort, in vacations, in quietness (for myself), but I’ve realized that God’s peace, the peace of Christ can rule in our hearts WHATEVER is happening. It truly is supernatural!

  • I’m realizing this more and more, that I have spent most of my life searching for peace in all the wrong places! In my kids, my new places of adventure, new work, and more. But God is convicting me that I will only find it in Him. That He blesses those who rely on Him, but that bitterness and exhaustion will come to those who search for peace through anything of this world. Thanks for the reminder that His plan is so much better than mine!

  • Oh, I love this very clear distinction between relief and peace! Fabulous! My younger years were filled with efforts to find relief, but I am so thankful God is walking me along the road of maturing my faith in Him. If I’m not intentional, I can still slip back into the bending over backwards, but overall, I am able to rest in peace more often than relief! What a difference it makes in life!
    Blessings, friend! And thank you so much for helping me share hope!