By Dennis Edwards
Are you looking for the peace of God, a peace that passes all understanding? In other words, an inner peace, a peace of mind and heart? Let us look at the peace of God spoken of in the Bible and how to find that peace.
“Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”1 The apostle Paul is telling us that the way we find peace is through Jesus, through our relationship with Him. The first step in our pursuit of peace is accepting Jesus into our lives and letting Him bring us into peace with God.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks to His disciples of His departure and of sending the Holy Spirit as a Comforter: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”2 Jesus is telling His followers that the Comforter would come and give them the peace they would need to confront the difficulties ahead. He warns them not to be afraid since fear is the enemy of peace.
Jesus goes on to say to His disciples, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”3 Have you ever noticed how we use words to comfort and assure others, like our children or grandchildren, that everything is going to be all right? The fear they may be experiencing vanishes as they rest on our assurances. Jesus is doing the same with His disciples, who will soon see Him captured by His enemies. He is as much as saying, “I am telling you these things ahead of time that you may keep your peace. Don’t be dismayed. Don’t be discouraged. Be encouraged. Remember when you are going through your tribulations that I have overcome and will overcome the world and all the evil within it.”
The apostle Paul gives us some more information on how we may have access to the “peace that passes understanding.” “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. ... Be careful [or anxious] for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”4 The formula that Paul presents is (1) praise and thanksgiving, (2) do not be anxious or worried, (3) prayer and supplication to God, (4) that God will send His peace for the situation.
Praise is an important element in our being able to find peace, and we find many references to the importance of praise in the Psalms. “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise.”5 Psalm 22 says that God dwells in the praises of His people. In the chronicles of the kings of Judah and Israel we read of marvelous exploits that God accomplished for His people because they sought Him in their difficulties and used praise and song as part of their military strategy.6
Corrie ten Boom said, “Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength—carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” Jesus also commanded us to not take anxious thought for tomorrow because today’s problems were sufficient enough to handle.7
So far we have seen we need to use praise and thanksgiving, we need to resist worry, and then to make our requests known to God through prayer and supplication. We need to pray and cast those burdens, fears, and worries all into the hands of God and let Him take care of them. The psalmist writes, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.”8 Jesus said if we come unto Him with all our burdens, all our problems, He would give us rest.9 What is rest but peace of mind and heart.
Mother Teresa had another formula. She said, “The fruit of silence is prayer. The fruit of prayer is faith. The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service. The fruit of service is peace.” In other words, if we stop and get quiet, the effect that quietness will have on us is that it will lead us to approach God in prayer. Prayer will cause us to find God and give us faith. Faith will then cause us to realize God’s love for us. The love we receive from God will transform us so that we want to love and serve others. Our love and service for others will result in peace. We have all experienced that when we have volunteered to help others that it is indeed “more blessed to give than to receive.”10
In Isaiah we see a formula similar to Mother Teresa’s. “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”11 Again we see that the fruit of righteousness ends up being peace and quiet assurance.
The Enemy of our soul tries to stop us from entering into the peace of Christ, from entering into His rest. We enter into His rest when we cease from our own strivings, our own accomplishments, and come humbly into the arms of Jesus and accept His love, mercy, and rest—the peace that passes understanding. It is not anything we deserve or work for. It’s a gift of God’s love and mercy and in humility must be received.
In Isaiah we have this promise: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”12 Paul admonishes in his letter to the Philippians: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”13 We must fight the good fight of faith. That fight, the battleground, is often in our minds. We must bring our thoughts to be in line with God’s Word. “Great peace have they which love thy law, and nothing shall offend them.”14 Loving and meditating on God’s Word will help us find peace.
If we listen to the admonitions of the prophets and disciples, and Jesus Himself, we can find that quiet assurance, that peace of mind, that we search for. We will find it because we have Christ’s presence with us. He is our peace and He enables us to have peace with one another. He sends us His peace as we seek to live for Him and serve others. Then we can say and do as the psalmist: “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.”15 Or as we find in another psalm: “The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.”16
Let us end with an old prayer of blessing found in the words of Moses: “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”17