Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 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.
Obtaining God’s peace. It’s such a beautiful sentiment, such a desirable state of being. Who wouldn’t want the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, to guard their hearts and minds?! Who wouldn’t want to experience a calm amongst the storm, or to have an escape from the chaos that surrounds them?
I have always interpreted Philippians 4:7 as describing God’s peace as being beyond human comprehension, greater than we could ever understand. But there’s another truth here that I have been missing. One that my heart needed even more.
As strange as it may sound, when I am going through tough times or find myself in the middle of circumstances that are out of my control, it is actually not peace that I’m seeking at all. I want understanding! I want to know the ‘why's’. I want to know the ‘how's’. I’m desperately searching for a way to be ok in the state of not knowing. “Lord, please help me understand!” Sadly, my peace is often more dependent on my own understanding than it is on God. But here, in Philippians, God promises us that His peace is even better than our own understanding. My stubborn heart needed to be reminded of this truth. We don’t have to know the why's or the how's. God does not promise to reveal all the answers to us, but He does give us a way to endure even when our circumstances don’t make sense! Not only that, we can endure with peace in our heart! I have been overlooking this aspect of His peace and yet it is this very aspect that my soul craved!
There are times when God will reveal answers and understanding to us but we also should not be surprised when He doesn’t. So often we put more value on gaining understanding than obtaining peace. We become preoccupied with trying to make sense of situations, focusing on the problem at hand and not the God that can help. The peace God offers is always superior to any understanding we could gain. Our desire is to ‘know’, but His desire is for our hearts to rest in Him, to settle on the truth of His grace, goodness, and willingness to help us.
What do you seek when circumstances don’t make sense? Peace from God or your own understanding?
God’s peace is a miraculous thing. It guards our hearts and our minds, which are both under attack. It is the heart and mind in which worry and anxiety fester. So often, we make the mistake of assuming that because we have ‘peace with God’ through salvation that we automatically have the ‘peace of God’. This simply is not true. Worry and anxiety can just as easily overtake a Christian’s heart as it can a non-believer.
So, how do you get peace from God amid circumstances you don't understand? You might be disappointed to learn that there is nothing new I can tell you.
You get peace the same way you get strength. You get peace the same way you get encouragement. You get peace the same way you get hope.
If you want your mind and heart guarded by the peace that is even better than understanding, hit your knees and pour out every request to the One who can help. Until we take our anxieties to Him, they will continue to rob us from the perfect peace God offers. With a thankful, humble heart, pray. Spend daily time in His Word, pondering it, soaking it into the deepest part of your being. Dwell there, in the beautiful truth of who He is. Focus your thoughts on what is true and lovely. And put into practice everything you learn. Be a doer of the Word. Those are the conditions laid out by God in Philippians 4. There you will find peace, true peace, that calms the soul even if understanding never comes.
You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
When you are surrounded by circumstances you don’t understand, though you may be tempted to search for answers, I want to challenge you to seek peace instead.
Digging deeper: What are some things you have used, in place of God, to try to ease anxieties and gain peace? Can you think of a situation when you had complete peace even though you didn’t understand the why's or the how's?
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