I Peter 3:4 encourages us to have a calm and gentle spirit, or, as the King James puts it, meek and quiet spirit.
The Greek word for calm or quiet is hesuchios. It means tranquility arising from within, undisturbed, peaceable, and quiet.
Here's an image I love from the book, A Gentle and Quiet Spirit," by Virginia Lefler (published by Silver Day Press:
"As a young child, I lived near a spring of water where my father would fill our water cans. Someone had put a concrete liner in the ground around the spring so that it was easy to draw the water out. I loved to go there. It was a peaceful place where water constantly bubbled up from within the earth and overflowed. It was puzzling to me how year after year, the water kept coming. There was an invisible underground source that I could not understand as a child. I think of that spring every time I read this definition of 'tranquility arising from within.'" The quiet spirit also has an unseen source. It comes from a deep trust in God's love, protection, and promises.
"There are a lot of things we face very day that reveal whether or not we have this kind of spirit. Do the words 'tranquility arising from within; describe you or would the words 'stressed out' be a better fit. Stress, not tranquility, describes many women today. Think back on what the last week has been like for you and your household. Were you undisturbed by the events you faced and undisturbing to others around you? Did you raise your voice or somehow lose control? Were you peaceful in the middle of all your business? Now, I assume you have been busy. We aren't talking about whether you have a life of leisure or not, we are talking about an inner quality.
"Again, Jesus is the perfect example of hesuchios. Large crowds of people who were needy, hungry, and sick often surrounded him (sounds like a family at times). Luke says, 'As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him.' It goes on to say that a woman touched him and that Jesus took the time to inquire about it. Unlike his disciples, who urged Jesus to send the people away (Mark ), Jesus was unruffled by the crowds.
"I love to be around peaceful people, because there is something very calming about them."
My note: When I was young, I used to think that having a hesuchios spirit meant that I would always move through every moment of my life serenely, and that I would eventually get to the point where I had all circumstances in my life going according to plan. I didn't realize that what I was, in fact, asking for was that life go according to MY plan.
Besides, we live in a fallen world. We are in a spiritual battle. Things will arise that will distress us. The key is what we do with our distress. Do we take our distress to God and depend on him to help us, or do we let our distress eat us up?
Having a meek and quiet spirit doesn’t mean that we never express grief or pain. When I was a young mother, my mother was diagnosed with the disease that would take her life some thirteen years later. We all knew that the illness would be terminal. I decided to be strong for my family throughout the long process of her dying. However, I had the wrong idea about what it meant to be strong and to trust God. Rather than grieving openly while expressing trust in God, I tried to be stoic. This only harmed me spiritually and emotionally, and it didn’t help my family, either. After all, Jesus wept at Lazarus graveside, even though he knew he was going to raise Lazarus. Again, the key is not to pretend that we have no distress. The key is to take our distress to the Lord.
This week, I was confronted with a couple of situations in which people were being harmed spiritually. I was right to be concerned. But, I didn’t fully give it all into God’s hands, as I should have. Oh, I prayed about it. But, I got up from my prayer still anxious and fretting and dreading having to have a couple of uncomfortable conversations with people. I didn't truly do as Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane. I didn't keep praying until my will was completely surrendered to God. Despite my lack of trust, God graciously worked out these situations without my doing a thing! Once again, he reminded me to depend totally on Him.
In short, hesuchios doesn’t come from being placidly unconcerned, nor does it come from perfect outer circumstances. As Mrs. Lefler writes, it comes from the source – from our trust in God.