The peace of God which surpasses understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7), yet how many of us try and guard the peace we have? Those who believe that the path to peace is arrived at by getting to the end of the road of worry, have misunderstood that God takes care of us with peace, by giving us peace to guard our hearts and mind. When we worry, we are in a contorted kind of way, trying to achieve peace of mind and we should recognise that this is the very opposite of what we learn in Philippians 4:5-7. The peace of God is what guards us, our minds and hearts. Therefore, worrying so as to get and protect the peace of mind which God gives us is like a builder trying to protect his steel toe-cap boots with his toes.
Paul teaches and encourages us to replace our anxiety with prayer and our prayers can include all those things which are causing us to worry, including our unbelief in the sovereignty of God. Since the peace of God is a blessing and a blessing which protects, which we receive through replacing our worries with prayer, we live behind the guard which God provides. Yet by trying to guard your peace, you are like the man who stands outside of the city walls, trying to protect that which is there to protect him.
Free from the deception of permanence
What is here today can be gone tomorrow, the Lord gives and He takes away. Permanence in this fallen world is an illusion, it is a deception which has convinced so many and they live with hopes that are grounded in what is possible to have and which the future holds. However “… all that is in the world, the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life is not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:16). When our worries include all those things which moth and rust can destroy we see how we are being influenced by the world and possibly by the illusion of permanence.
Free from the deception of the temporal
The people of God are convinced about eternity and they recognise that this present age is temporal. However, there are those who are not the people of God who also believe in the temporal, they recognise that they will not be around forever, one day they will die and so they might as well enjoy as much of life as possible. Yet, Eternity is bound up in the heart of man, leaving them without an excuse for the existence of an eternal God. Every human heart lives with a sense of eternity and so a tension exists between that and the reality of death. This, in turn, creates in those who don’t belong to God an illusion of being a temporal being.
Living under the care of God in a fallen world
Since we have seen the importance of replacing our worry with prayer, a good prayer to follow at this time would be the following:
” Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the LORD?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:7-9)
Those who pray in this way are all too aware of the pressures and temptation which can come with not having enough and the dangers which come with having too much. The safe ground for us is contentment, Paul learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger abundance and need, and that he can do all things through him (Christ) who strengthens him. God provides for us and gives peace to us to guard our hearts and minds. God guards us because He cares for us and we cannot guard ourselves. In the same way, a sea defence can only protect a coastal village as long as the defence is bigger and stronger than the waves which pound it. Those who seek to guard their own life can only guard it against that which is weaker than their guards and while there is nothing sinful with being prudent that ability cannot become the thing we trust in.
Coming out of lockdown
As the country seeks to come out of lockdown the leaders look to big data to make wise decisions and ignorance was the biggest issue then it wouldn’t be questioned. However, knowing that people have lost their business and jobs doesn’t help them to get a new one. The ambulance at the bottom of the cliff serves a different purpose than the fence at the top, it addresses a different matter altogether. The difference which data can provide is then fairly minimal but it is trusted because data is addictive, it offers rewards but at the same time creates confusion and further anxieties and since trust is the basic motivator, who to trust and what to trust in is an issue for everyone.
As people prepare to get back to a kind of normal, a new normal, no one person is quite sure what this will look like and the challenges ahead are not something which can be lived with without the peace of God. The current state of life is not one where people have to make their way back to peace but rather where they will need the peace of God to guard their hearts and minds. The world is fallen and therefore there will always be plenty to tempt us into anxiety as we seek to guard ourselves against loss and the fear of loss.
As Christians live with the peace of God they will be protected, guarded and this will surpass all understanding. So we shouldn’t spend the time thinking or worrying about how this can be true. We may feel that people do not understand our worries or what they feel like, but why should we, since the peace of God is that which guards our minds and hearts against those anxieties. It’s not an act of compassion to understand the worries of another individual, how they weight heavy on their hearts and minds. The compassionate act would be to do what Paul does in Philippians in chapter 4, tell them that “…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 minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:5-9).
Worry as we have seen in previous posts on this subject will get you to concentrate on yourself and will not promote in you any motivation to trust God. Therefore, the best way to begin dealing with worry is by not listening to it and replacing it with prayer. God will guard our hearts and mind with His peace and this is something which God takes care of completely.