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The peace that passes all understanding

By Femi Aribisala

God is a God of peace.  His name is Jehovah-Shalom.  Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of peace.

The sons of God are sons of peace. (Luke 10:6).  When Gideon built an altar to the Lord, he called it “The-Lord-Is-Peace.” (Judges 6:24).

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The peace God gives is very precious.  It is completely different from the peace of men.  Men often conceptualise peace as the absence of war.  This is then negotiated through diplomacy and international peace-keeping.  But God’s peace cannot be obtained at the United Nations.  It is not the peace of the world.

God’s peace is the peace of the mind.  It is an internal, as opposed to external, peace.  It is the peace that is God-given and that comes from faith in God.  Isaiah says to God: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3).

People often say in frustration: “I just want some peace and quiet!”  When you hear this, you know immediately that the complainant is seeking the elusive peace of the world and not the peace of God.  For there to be peace in the world, there must be quiet.  Not so the peace of God.

The peace of God remains even in turmoil.  It persists even in the middle of storms.  It is established and sustained by the confident assurance that the word of God cannot fail.  Accordingly, Jesus says to his disciples: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Like a river

The peace of God is constant and unrelenting.  It is immune to situations and circumstances.  For this reason, it is likened to a river: “‘For thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river.’” (Isaiah 66:12).

If you stand on a bridge across a river and look down, you will notice the water keeps flowing in one direction without stopping.  So it is with the peace of God.  Like a river, it is always flowing in those privileged to have it.

Moreover, since it is not dependent on outside or contingent variables, the peace of God is inscrutable. It does not make sense.  But it is amenable to prayer.  If you desire it, you must be: “Anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7).

I call this “the mai gadi of peace,” using the popular Hausa word for sentry or guard.  The peace of God stands protective at the door of your heart and does not allow any worries to enter.

Heritage of peace

Jesus is our peace.  He mediated peace between God and man.  He mediated peace between Jew and Gentile.  He gives his disciples peace of mind.

Believers are often particular about what the Lord has not given, and we ignore what he gives.  The main thing the Lord gives and withholds is peace.  He said to Jeremiah: “I have taken away my peace from this people.” (Jeremiah 16:5)

When Jesus was going back to heaven, the one item he willed to believers is peace.  He said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27).

Note that Jesus makes it the responsibility of the believer not to allow his heart to be troubled or afraid. He that has received peace from the Lord guards his inheritance jealously.  “A man of understanding holds his peace.” (Proverbs 11:12).  He does not relinquish it.

Men are inclined to guard their possessions.  They burglar-proof their houses.  They put their treasures in a safe.  They put their money in a bank.  They put their gold in Fort Knox. But their heart is wide open.  This is foolish.

There is no greater instrument of peace than the word of God.  Therefore, God counsels: “My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:20-23).

Worry worshippers

Worriers are problem worshippers.  They run from pillar to post, achieving nothing constructive but increasing their blood pressure.  God worshippers are different.  Like Jonah, they sleep through storms because God “gives his beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:2).  When they invite God into their situation, the very first thing he does is to flood their heart with his peace.

This peace is the evidence of Jehovah Shalom.  It tells you the ever-present God is manifestly there.  That is why Moses, in his wisdom, was not in a hurry to take the children of Israel out of Egypt to the Promised land.

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He said to God: “If you don’t go with us, we are not going.”  He knew without God’s presence they would know no peace on the way.  Therefore, God reassured him: “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14).

However, the Israelites did not have faith in God.  They could not trust him to protect them against their enemies.  Therefore, they could not enter God’s rest, and all but two of those who left Egypt with Moses perished in the wilderness.

Prince of peace

Jesus renews this invitation to God’s peace to all humanity.  He says: “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29).

You may be labouring for money.  You may be burdened because you do not have a child.  You may be depressed because you do not have any pride of life like a job, a car or a home.  But the Lord does not promise any of these.  He is not a God of money.  Neither is he a God of children.  He does not say: “Come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you a job, or a car or property.  He says: “I will give you rest.”

Contrary to what you may have been told, God does not bless people with houses, cars, lands or jobs.  He blesses people with peace.  The psalmist says: “The LORD will give strength to his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11).

You can take up God’s challenge right now.  Jesus is “the Prince of Peace” that God has given to man. (Isaiah 9:6).  Invite him into your life.  Ask him to be your Lord and Saviour, and he will flood your heart with the peace that passes all understanding.

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