What would you do for peace? How far would you go? Some looking for the peace of God have joined monasteries and committed themselves to seclusion and withdrawal from the world that they might find the peace of God. I suppose if peace can be found in the world, it would only be while secluding oneself from the world. Let’s face it. This is not a peaceful world. Whether we are talking about Isis, North Korea, or even Ferguson, there is no peace in this world. I’m quite sure that even the monks get irritated with one another because one breathes too loud and the others can’t concentrate. Wherever there are people, there will not be peace. But the Lord did not call us to find the peace in the world. Peace is to be found in Him.
He promised to leave us peace. (John 14:27) But where is this peace? Of course He is the Prince of Peace, but so many of us who worship and exalt the Prince of Peace can’t seem to find the peace He has left for us. “Has anyone seen the peace? Did someone move it because it is supposed to be right here in my life and it is missing!”
The peace of God is here, but what does it take to attain to His peace. Would you become a monk? Would you give up all of your Earthly possessions? Would you go to the ends of the Earth with only a whip and a camel to retrieve it? I’m just messing around, but seriously, how badly do you want peace in your life? I know if you are like me, there are so many things happening in every concentric circle of our life that keeps you awake at night stressing, weeping, struggling. We cry out for peace. We seek after the Prince of Peace, but peace seems to be a fleeting shadow. The hurt within lingers and fills our heart. There is no room for peace. We want it. It alludes us.
The Scripture teaches us that peace in this world will never come. At the same time, there is a peace that surpasses understanding.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I love this passage, as many of us do, yet the promise reveals an undesirable truth. If chaos, destruction, and busyness ended in my life, then peace would not surpass understanding. Peace at this point would be understandable. It would make sense that if all of my problems died, I would finally have peace. If all of my enemies dropped dead; if my dilemmas found solutions; if my bank account was overflowing after all of the bills were paid, peace would be most logical. The peace Jesus has left us though surpasses understanding. It is a peace that does not make sense. The only way it would not make sense would be if it came to me in the flood of pain, loneliness, bankruptcy, divorce, and inoperable cancer. Now to be in the middle of horrific battles against all odds, but have peace, would be beyond understanding. It makes no sense to have peace in the middle of the storms of life. Well, I agree, but this is the peace we are looking for. It is the peace in the storm, not the peace after the storm.
But still how do we find this peace? If we were to go back in Philippians just a few words, we will find the door to this peace that surpasses understanding.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
There’s the door to peace. We have found it! Eureka! We have found it! What? You didn’t see the door? It’s right there…”with thanksgiving.” Prayer with thanksgiving. I think most of us pray when peace has dissipated from our life leaving crisis, conundrums, and confusion. But how do we pray? This is the key to it all. It’s not whether or not we pray. We have all prayed with petition crying out to the Lord over and over yet we never find peace. How far would you go to find peace? Would you go so far as to be thankful for everything in your life that seems to be stealing your peace? Would you go that far? Could you be thankful for the diagnosis? Would you exalt Him with thanksgiving for a lost child? How can we be thankful for these things? These things are not good. They are at times, even evil. What is there to be thankful for in times like this? Let’s go back again in this passage:
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
The King James translates it like this: “The Lord is at hand.” Oh, praise be to the God who runs to the weary and wounded. He is at hand. He is near. He is within reach. I am thankful that He is with me; that He is near me; that He is within reach. I can touch Him. It is in these times of our life where it seems He has finally given us more than we can handle that He is so close we can touch Him. If I know the Lord is near to me, I am comforted by the potential power He can release on my behalf. I don’t have to wait for Him to act. My peace is found in that He loves me and for this reason, He has drawn near to me, and He is able to sustain me or rescue me. One of these two things will be the outcome every time when I come to Him with prayer and petition and also a spirit of thanksgiving. I am thankful that He will not let my suffering last forever. I am thankful that I am not in bondage to my pain. At any moment, the God who has drawn near to me can set me free. And if He chooses to wait, His grace is sufficient to sustain me and my victory will be found in my endurance under the pain. I will not be broken because He is at hand!
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
I will rejoice. I can rejoice. I am justified to rejoice for He is at hand. My victory is eminent. I will have my victory upon His immediate word or after His sustaining word, but victory is mine. I give thanks to the God who never leaves me alone. I give thanks to the God who never breaks a promise. I give thanks to a God who draws near. I give thanks to a God who holds me and exalts me above every weapon formed against me. And I walk through the door. I journey to the place of peace. This is the peace He leaves me. It is the peace that can only be found with thanksgiving in the face of duress. Let us rejoice in the Lord always!
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