Devotional

A Peace That Passes Understanding

When I mention the word “peace,” what comes to your mind? Is it watching the sun rise in the quiet, early morning with a cup of coffee in your hand and your Bible in front of you? Maybe it is an afternoon stroll in the woods, wading through a gurgling stream, or watching the sunset with a friend? It might even be a warm bubble bath and a good book, or simply collapsing on the couch after the last child falls asleep at night. We each have a picture in our minds of what brings us peace.

Most of us are likely thinking that we just want a life free from trouble – no sickness, pain, bills, difficult people, etc. Unfortunately, while we all agree that the absence of troubles would feel peaceful, we know that will never be a reality in this present world.

According to Merriam-Webster, peace means a state of tranquility or quiet; freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.

This sounds so good! But how can we be in a state of tranquility and quiet, free from oppressive thoughts or emotions when we live in a sinful, troubled world?

A World of Trouble

We should not be surprised that we struggle to find peace in this world. Jesus spoke to his disciples shortly before he was betrayed and said to them in John 16:33, “These things have I spoken unto you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Jesus told his disciples that there would be tribulations in this world, and they experienced them. In addition to the normal troubles of life, they also suffered for their faith. But Jesus offered them hope! He told them to be of good cheer, because he has overcome the world!

Peace in the Storm

Have you ever slept peacefully through a storm?

Here in central Illinois, we can have some pretty severe storms. I remember when I was a young child, a violent storm tore through our town. The rain came down in sheets. Hail pounded on the roof and siding. The wind shredded screens apart and ripped off shingles. I could see and feel the house rocking back and forth.

As my parents gathered us into the hallway of our house and closed all the doors for safety, they left my sister sleeping in her crib. I was scared and confused! I did not understand how they could leave her there, nor how my sister could sleep through the storm.

Fast forward about 20 years to when I had a baby of my own. I was staying at my mom’s house and a storm came. The weather became severe and storm warnings were issued. My mom and I made our way to the hallway, and guess where I left my daughter. Sure enough! I left her sleeping in her bed!

Both my sister and my daughter were able to sleep peacefully through the wild, raging storms because they were young, innocent, and trusting. They did not have a care in the world, because they did not understand the dangers of a severe Illinois storm. They also trusted their loving, caring parents to take care of them.

And why were we, as parents, able to leave them? Because we had experience with storms. We knew to be prepared, yet we knew our children were not in immediate danger. We were only steps away from scooping them up into safety.

Jesus Calms the Storm

The gospel of Mark gives us the account of Jesus and his disciples caught in a storm at sea.

“And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Mark 4:36-41

Several of Jesus’ disciples were fishermen and were likely accustomed to storms at sea. But when this storm became fierce, they got scared. The boat was taking on water and they were going to die.

The disciples’ reaction perplexes me. After all, they had witnessed Jesus perform many miracles. He caused the lame to walk and the blind to see. He raised the dead back to life. And although they had heard him teach over and over again, they still seemed to lack the understanding of who he was.

Jesus’ disciples woke him up, not to kindly ask him to save them from the storm, but to accuse him of not caring that they were about to die.

Jesus got up, calmed the storm, and rebuked his disciples for having no faith.

With Jesus in the boat, his disciples should have been at peace, right? After all they had experienced with him, they should have known he had the power to save them. But they didn’t, and Jesus called them out on it. He pointed out their lack of faith. Jesus demonstrated peace during that storm that no one else in the boat understood.

Peace in the Storms of Life

As we walk this journey of life, we find that storms often rage around us. Some storms are of our own making, some are brought upon us by others, and some God allows into our lives for his own purposes. We find ourselves being pummeled on all sides by the troubles and cares of life.

How do we respond to these storms? Do we feel like Jesus is sleeping in the back of the boat and allowing us to go down with the ship? Are we accusing him of leaving us alone and not caring whether we live or die?

The Bible tells us exactly how we should respond.

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.

Philippians 4:6-7

Do Not Be Anxious

First of all, this verse tells us not to be anxious! That is definitely easier said than done. It is nearly impossible to just turn anxiety off and on. How can we simply not be anxious when we are facing storms in our lives? After all, there are real concerns in any storm, whether physical, financial, mental, emotional, etc. We must pay the bills, make the Dr. appointments, buy the medicine, and deal with difficult people.

But God wants us to put off that anxiety and rest in Him. This verse goes on to tell us how to do that.

The next phrase tell us, “in everything”! Not some things, not just the easier things, not only the things we want to let go of. It says in everything! God wants us to give all our anxieties and cares to him. There is no situation too big or too small that he doesn’t care about.

Pray About It

Pour your heart out to God. Surrender your situation to Him. Ask Him for help. We serve an almighty God who has power over the wind and the waves. If he can calm a storm at sea, he can surely calm the storms raging in our lives!

Be Thankful

This verse tells us not only to pray, but to pray with thanksgiving. Thanking God for even the smallest of blessings can change our hearts and attitudes from anger and bitterness to peace and contentment.

Sometimes a storm can feel like an adventure. Here in the Midwest when the clouds get dark, the wind picks up, and the sky begins to change color, we often like to run to the door and see what is happening. We like to see if we can catch a glimpse of a funnel cloud and appreciate the power of a big storm. We see branches falling and objects blowing around and think about the clean-up we will have to do, but we are sure we will be fine.

Other times a storm feels like complete and utter devastation. When a tornado directly hits a town, buildings are flattened, debris is scattered for miles, and large object are hurled through the air like toys. Life seems to be reduced to a pile of rubble, as people wonder how to clean up and rebuild their lives.

As I have watched interviews after such events, there is one things I have noticed that keeps people going. They find the one thing to be thankful for. They might have lost all earthly belonging, but their family made it out safely. Their house might be scattered across the countryside, but they found one special memento that has special meaning to them.

Finding something to be thankful for brings hope and peace.

What are you thanking God for in your storm? Are you thankful for those who have offered help? Do you thank Him for money He has provided? Are you thankful for what God is teaching you through it all? Can you thank him for using you to comfort others as a result of your storm?

Peace is From God

What is the key to this peace? It is God! The verse goes on to say, “and the peace of God“. I must run to him and depend on him for that peace – the peace that passes all understanding. God is in control even when my life feels out of control. God is in control even when I cannot see it. If I rest in his peace and allow him to work, even in ways I don’t always see or understand, I can experience this peace that passes all understanding.

It is really hard to explain something that even the Bible says is past understanding. Peace is a feeling that every Christian can experience if they put their trust fully in God. Peace is knowing that God will make a way when there seems to be no way. It is knowing that God is the great physician and will heal according to his will and in his time. Peace is letting God work his will in your life. It is knowing he can use your story to help others.

A peace that passes all understanding is not the absence of pain, sickness, grief, or trouble. It is the calming presence of God in the midst of those troubles, knowing that God is in control and that whatever happens, he has a purpose and a plan. It is riding the waves as they come, knowing that the master of the wind and waves is there with you.

Understanding the God of Peace

How do we truly feel the peace that passes all understanding? We must know the God of Peace. Do you really know God? Do you know who he is and what he is able do? If Jesus’ disciples truly had known who he was, they would have been at peace during the storm at sea. They would have known that he is God and was in control of the storm. Do we truly know God? He is almighty, unchangeable, all-powerful, loving, forgiving, holy, and the list could go on.

Isaiah 26:3 reminds us, ” Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.”

Wife, mom, grandma, and country girl. I am living by faith and encouraging others to do the same. I integrate faith, family and country living.

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