One of the most reassuring verses in the whole bible is Isaiah 26:3, “You keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because He trusts in You.” In a world full of war, heartache, poverty, abuse, greed, cruelty, selfishness and neglect, we could all use some peace.
When Christ was speaking to His disciples before He was betrayed, He told them He would leave them His peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27a)
They had lived with Him, followed Him, given up their entire lives as they had known them, and now He was leaving. He wanted them to know that He was not going to leave them as orphans, that He would return for them, (John 14:18) and that they did not need to fear. (John 14:27b) He promised that the Father would send them the Holy Spirit, who would teach them all things and bring to their remembrance all that He had said to them. (John 14:26)
That same Spirit lives in us if Jesus is our Lord and Saviour, as Paul’s letter to the Ephesians assures us, “in Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (1:13) And that same Spirit continues to produce His peace in us as we remain in Him. (John 15:5, Gal. 5:22)
So why don’t we always feel it? Why is peace so elusive?
Part of the problem is that many of us have never tasted real peace. We hear the words of Philippians 4, but we stop short of actually believing them. “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.” (5b-7)
We don’t have peace because we have grown so accustomed to carrying our anxiety and fear, with their dead weight and burden, that we seldom remember that “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18) We erroneously think that if He would simply remove our less than optimal circumstances, we would find peace, but in that thinking we are missing the point. Circumstances have little to do with real peace.
Christ is our peace. He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and His peace is so big and so powerful that it is able to guard our hearts and minds no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in. When we were born again into Christ’s life, “the Spirit we received did not make us slaves, so that we would live in fear again; rather, the Spirit we received brought about our adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Rom. 8:15) We are His, and like a child in the comforting arms of his father, we can be confident that although the battle rages on, the war has already been won. (1 Cor. 15:56-57)
When we “taste and see that the LORD is good (Ps.34:8a) we soon realize that peace is in Christ alone. And when we continue to seek Him, cling to Him, and study His Word we can “let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts”. (Col. 3:15a) Peace is no longer elusive. It becomes our banner.
So today, let us fall on our faces before the Lord of peace and confess that for too long we have let fear steal our peace, the peace that He has freely given us. Let us ask Him to help us remain in Him and grow the fruit of peace in abundance. Let us take our eyes off of our circumstances and set them squarely on the Prince of Peace!