The Peace of God

The Peace of God

As I observe what people are doing and listen to what they are saying, I mostly see and hear everything but “the peace of God.” How about you? When I listen to the news, it is full of differing opinions and political wrangling. So, how are we supposed to know which scientist or medical expert to believe? If they don’t agree, where does that leave us? Even more, there is so much finger pointing that casting blame is distracting us from pursuing reasonable solutions. This all leaves you and I with a lot of questions shrouded in a fog of uncertainty. And for many of us, anxiety and fear have filled our minds and hearts.

Some of you have told me that you feel angry. Others have said that you feel depressed. Still others have reported being full of fear and frustration. I can’t even imagine how the decision makers, expert advisors and other leaders at all levels of government must feel. I would envision, at a minimum, that mental, emotional and physical fatigue is wearing on them. And let’s not forget, there has been an inconceivable level of complexity added to the jobs of medical professionals and first responders. Can you imagine wearing a mask and a shield every day, all day long? Well, of course, some of you do and it looks like someone hit you in the nose, ears and cheeks after a long day’s work.

Added to all of this, our sick and elderly family and friends can’t have visitors to comfort them. At best, we can talk to each other on the phone or press our hands against theirs through the glass outside their window. At a minimum, our work and social life have been radically disrupted. Even our church life and ministry have become all but virtual. With that in mind, I think if I hear or read a reference to “Zoom Meeting,” “Go to Meeting,” or “Google Meeting” one more time I may need to be medicated. Okay. Okay. Just kidding. All in all, you might say many of us are feeling lonely, locked up and locked out. So how do we cope?

There are four words that help me. These four words are rejoice, pray, think and practice. Where did I come up with these four words? Well, of course, the Bible. As the Apostle Paul advises the church in Philippi, PhP 4:4 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. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

As we read this passage, we discover the best biblical, Holy Spirit breathed advise on how to cope with the most difficult circumstances in our lives. First, remember there is always a reason to rejoice and give thanks. So what is stopping you from rejoicing and giving thanks right now (ref. 1 Thes 5:18)? Second, instead of allowing your mind to fill with anxiety, stop and pray. In fact, pray without ceasing (ref. 1 Thes 5:17). In doing so, trust your issues, doubts, fears and concerns with God. Third, think about things that edify. Don’t fill your head with thoughts that are negative. Why would we? Now just think about it. How many of us have worried about things that have never came true and isn’t even remotely possible?  So why are we wasting so much of our time entertaining anxious thoughts? Well then, take time right now and think about things that are lovely and excellent. Fourth, let’s put our Bible knowledge into practice (ref. James 1:22). In other words, let’s apply the Bible to our circumstances. What, you say? Well, do you have a better plan than what God gave us through the Apostle Paul?

Please understand me my friend. I’m not dismissive or insensitive of your struggle. In fact, in all honesty with transparency, I have issues of my own. In fact, I have moments of irritability and moodiness like I’ve never experienced ever before. I feel the weight of trying to sort out the facts and make wise decisions, doing ministry in the midst of a pandemic, leading our church through uncertainty and monitoring the health of my own family. As I’ve experienced these feelings and emotions, my spiritual oasis has been reading and meditating on scripture and praying. But not as a last resort, but as a first priority. With that said, let’s encourage one another to work together as a team as we pray, care, share and give. All in all, let’s love one another to the glory of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We constantly witness the carnal, worldly way of dealing with the reality of living in a fallen, sinful world whose prince is the devil. Have you gotten trapped in that way of thinking and living? If so, how’s that working for you? When I fall into that mode, it’s always a disaster. So then, how about we try it God’s way? Look carefully at the passage from Philippians 4. What is the promise from this passage? That’s right! The indescribable, supernatural, inner “peace of God.” Did I mention this is a promise? Furthermore, it is a conditional promise based on our obedience to rejoice, pray, think and practice. But, this is not just any promise but a promise from the Bible that was breathed out by God (ref. 2 Tim 3:16). PEACE!

A Work in Progress,

Pastor Gene