Peace that Surpasses All Human Understanding
Dr. George Cherian
The world zealously pursues peace in lives, homes and the society yet evidently never seem to achieve it. On the contrary all human efforts seem to end up in chaos and confusion. The Bible speaks of Peace which God gives that surpasses all human understanding, a peace that causes us to blissfully relax by trusting in God who cares for all the concerns of our life. It then is a calm state of mind even in the midst of severe conflicts.
This surpassing peace is vividly illustrated in the life of Peter while he was imprisoned. The passage in Acts describes him chained and guarded by sixteen soldiers and placed in a high security room within three gates. But we see Peter sound asleep bound with two chains kept between the two soldiers. (Acts 12:5). It is the divine peace that enabled him to sleep even when fully aware of the possibility of execution by the King.
The scripture teaches how we can experience this kind of peace even in turbulent situations of life. Apostle Paul in writing to Philippian believers explains how we could practically enjoy this amazing calm state of mind. Peace that surpasses all human understanding is not absence of turbulence in life, but it is the ability to stay calm and faithful even in turbulent times.
1. Presence of God provides Peace
Men and women in general do not enjoy peace because they are estranged from God. “There is no peace for the wicked says the Lord.” Isaiah.48:22 Without God, life is destined to become restless. St. Augustine made this very clear in his famous quote, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds rest in thee.” In other words, Augustine is convinced that one can have perfect rest in God. Hence the foundation for peace is experiencing the presence of God in life. This can only be achieved reconciliation with God and a personal relationship with God which is accomplished only through Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. “He himself is our Peace.” says Paul in his letter to Ephesians. (Eph.2:14). Knowing Christ can enable a person to enjoy peace in any situations. Paul in his second letter to Timothy shares about one of his anxious moment in life as he faced the trial in the court for the sake of the gospel. He said that no one stood with him in the first defense and all abandoned him. But he was strengthened by the presence of God. (2Tim.4:16 &17). Peace is not the absence of problem but presence of God and comfort in spite of the problem.
2. Prayer and Praise replaces anxiety with peace. Phil.4:6,7
Anxiety in the life robs peace. It is not uncommon to see even the rich and famous struggle under anxious thoughts about future, children and health concerns. Paul in writing to the Philippian Church shares how one could practically replace anxiety with peace that surpasses all understanding. In times of anxiety and distress we can we can bring everything to God in prayer and thanksgiving andreceive peace from God. Take all our cares and worries to the Lord and simultaneously thank God for all what He has done for us in the past. God will fill our heart with a sweet spirit of peace.Elevating ourselves from the earth’s level to level of God’s presence effectively swaps our worries with God’s peace.
During the early years of aviation, a pilot was taking along distance flight. Suddenly he heard a noise in the cockpit. He suddenly realized that it was the gnawing of a rat. He was concerned the rat cutting a vital wire or a tube that could jeopardize the safe flight. Knowing that the rat would it find difficult to breath at a high altitude with low air pressure, the pilot took the plane to a higher altitude. Soon the gnawing sound of the rat stopped. So, when we feel restless and disturbed with challenging times, we can spiritually elevate ourselves to a level where peace overrides worry.
It is also important to note that Jesus asked His disciples to set their priorities right to overcome worry and enjoy peace. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt.6:33-34).
It is impossible to enjoy peace when we are sidetracked with cares and worries of the world.
3. Absolute trust in God creates peace in our hearts.
Prophet Isaiah says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.”
(Is. 26:3). Many a times we lose our peace because we anchor our lives on human and material resources. Our peace gets shattered as we see the people and material possessions we trusted crumble before our eyes. Trusting God will keep our lives rooted on an unshakable foundation, giving us peace even in the midst of storms. The story is told of a boy who miraculously found refuge on a small rock when the boat he travelled capsized in a lake. The rescue team found him and brought him to the shore.
“Did the cool wind cause you to shiver badly when you were on the rock?” the rescue team asked, to which the boy replied,” Yes it was very cold, and I was shivering but the rock on which I stood did not shake at all and I was safe and at peace.” This exactly is the experience of a person who trusts the Lord. No wonder the psalmist said, “Some Trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” (Ps.20:7)
4. Realization of God’s greatness will give us peace.
Knowing and believing in God’s sovereignty and awesome power results in a life of peace.
Mark, the gospel writer narrates to us about a journey Jesus and His disciples made in the sea of Galilee When a sudden storm rocked the boat and water began to fill the boats, the disciples panicked and cried out. All through these times their master was sleeping peacefully, illustrating to them that their master has peace that surpasses all understanding. But they soon realized that Christ could order peace by a simple command, “peace be still.” Christ understands the stormy situations in our life and in times of need He has the authority and power to command “peace be still.” The knowledge that our omnipotent God rules the world will usher in peace in our hearts.
5. Peace of God rules our hearts when we live a life of obedience.
Paul continuing his teaching on experiencing divine peace exhorts the Philippian believers to do what they have learned from him and seen in him. (Phil.4:9) If you do so Paul says,
“God of peace will be with you.” It is disobedience to God’s law that brings fear and loss of peace in our lives. The psalmist says, “Great peace have those who love the law.”
Christ is called, ‘the prince of peace’. Hence peace is experienced by all who have subjected themselves by obedience to his authority and purpose.
Horatio Spafford after losing his four daughters in a ship wreck wrote a hymn illustrating the peace that surpasses human understanding. Spafford penned, “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll……” Here is a saint who is conscious of the presence of God, the greatness and power of God and living in close fellowship with God by a life of submission and obedience to His will. This is the secret of enjoying peace that surpasses all human understanding in a turbulent world.