Little thoughts nagging at my heart and mind. Waking at 4 am rehearsing all the things I must do today (or is it jet lag?). I’m experiencing the normal stuff of life. Packed schedule, feeling rushed to complete tasks, commitments right around the corner, appointments that must be faced, new tasks to conquer, uninvited changes to the schedule, children growing up and making major life decisions. Not enough time to absorb the changes, it’s happening to me, I am not in control. Life is rushing by and I have no space to understand it, let alone relish it. I’m on the racing wagon going faster than I’d prefer in order to get to the destination on time.
And to top it off, my husband is also moving on to new things, taking risks, growing. Then there’s the sucky stuff. Dad’s death and sale of his house, loved ones’ continued isolation, estrangement, and ditching of God. All throwing me into a world of uncomfortableness. Lack of control is messing with my peace.
So I return to Philippians chapter four to see what else the Apostle Paul has to say about dealing with anxiety (the normal, everyday kind). He has already taught me to practice the presence of God, to pray about everything and to be grateful. Now he tells me what to expect if I implement these strategies: And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (4:7).
Peace (eirēnē, in Greek) means the binding or joining together what is broken or divided. Today we might say, “having it all together.” According to Dr. Thomas L. Constable, “the phrase ‘the peace of God’ occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. This is peace that comes from God, rather than peace with God. It is a peace that comes to us when we pray, because we enter into the tranquility of God’s own presence.”
This peace transcends or surpasses my comprehension or understanding. This means that it excels, is superior to or better than my intellectual faculties. It doesn’t make sense. It is mind-boggling. “This peace is beyond our comprehension, for we cannot fully understand it; yet it is not beyond our experience, for we can fully experience it in the present.” (Dwight Edwards, Precept Austin)
It also guards—protects like a garrison or one standing sentry over – my heart, my soul, the center of my spiritual life and my mind, the part of me that thinks. Again, in Dr. Constable’s words: “Together these words refer to the entire inner being of the Christian, his emotions, affections, thoughts and moral choices. This inner part of a person, then, so vulnerable to attack by the enemy, is that which God’s peace is set, like battle-ready soldiers, to protect.”
“Peace in the present context is a state without anxiety and worry about how and when our needs (physical or emotional) will be supplied. This peace is the result of going to Him and confidently committing everything into His trustworthy hands. The promise of this verse is that if we pray, rather than worry, God will give us peace. Anxiety brings no peace, but praying does.” (Precept Austin)
So, as my feet hit the floor, I talk to God about the day before me. Praying about it reminds me that I am not alone but that God is with me. He hears me and he is in control. As I, one by one, tell him my concerns, I release them to him. Then I say “thank you” for his sovereignty and his power and his willingness to work things out for me. This consciously takes my fingers off the controls and gives it back to him. I ask the Holy Spirit to govern my mind and help me reign in my thoughts. And God’s peace begins to guard my heart.
I resolve to trust him, reminding myself he is in control and he loves me dearly. And I have peace. For a few seconds, I know what Isaiah meant by, You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you (26:3).
What are you anxious about today?
How can you experience his mind-boggling peace?
God of Peace, give me the peace of God as I present my requests to you this day, the myriad things that I think need to get done. As I talk to you, I am reminded that you are in control, not me, and that I can trust you with all the tiny details that weigh on my mind and the heavy burdens of those that I love. Thank you for your power and your love that enable me to trust you. Thank you that peace stands as a sentinel in my mind to protect me from my own anxious thoughts.