Tag Archives: worry

Peace on Earth 4

The “piece of cod that surpasses all understanding,” Swedes talk about is lutefisk.  It’s an apt description, but the whole thing is a pun from this bible verse:

 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:7)

Three questions:

  • What is the “peace of God?”
  • How does one attain it?
  • What does “surpasses all understanding” really mean?

The “peace of God” means a peace that is given to us by God, a kind of peace that is superior in all ways to what the world thinks of as peace.  It’s not an absence of conflict but a genuine wellness of soul which gives the wherewithal to go through seasons of strife without losing it.  That’s because it “guards our hearts” from going off into unproductive second guessing and “if only.”  Instead, it keeps our hearts and minds settled in Jesus.  That’s not some emotional trick.  We make our home in Christ, in His mindset and in His care.

This peace is given to us in response to our genuine prayers:

“…The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5b-7)

Mixing prayer requests with thanksgiving – real thankfulness – is a key to this kind of prayer and that kind of peace.  When we turn computer problems over to an expert, knowing he has the knowledge and skill to take care of it, we don’t waste time futilely trying to figure out how to fix it ourselves.  Same thing when we turn problems over to Almighty God, only so much better.

The phrase, “surpasses all understanding” probably means it is impossible to understand the peace that comes, much less to explain it logically.  But I suspect it also means the peace we receive is better than the understanding we yearn for in tough circumstances.  We cannot explain why God would allow this tragedy to have occurred but as we pray and, as He blesses our souls with peace, we discover that understanding why it has happened is not so important.  We have peace that comes from God, comes from knowing the God of sovereignty and grace, knowing He is on the case and somehow that is enough.  More than enough, it’s better.  It surpasses the mere desire to understand.

Dealing with Fear

Be afraid; be very afraid!  That’s the message of the news shows on TV.  The more you worry, the better they like it, because worry drives their profit.  What do you worry about?  What keeps you awake at night?  Do you have an answer, something specific?  Me too.  If you would like to worry less, here’s a good word:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,” (Psalm 46:1-2)

Whoever wrote those words was living at a time when it was frequently necessary to grab a sword and run out to chop and slash murderous attackers,  It’s hard to imagine what that must have been like.  I’d have been pretty jumpy.  Maybe we have it comparatively easy, but worry can still harass us.   Whatever it is that worries you, let those truths soak in and do their work.

And this:

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Not to Worry

Terry Bolter escaped from the Gestapo by jumping across 6 feet of space to the roof of the adjacent building and then dropping down through a skylight.  He was a British WWII pilot, downed behind Nazi lines, who eventually made it back.  His journey ( It’s a hair raising tale; I’ll include the link below) was made possible by following guides from the Belgian resistance.  Throughout this perilous escape, Terry was constantly faced with a choice: worry or trust.  Worry would have paralyzed him.  Putting aside worry and trusting his guide gave him the ability to make it through each day’s dangerous obstacles.  Jesus taught the same principle in the Sermon on the Mount: Don’t worry; Trust.  He said:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  (Matthew 6:25-34)

Worry, stressing over having enough food, clothing or money, can prevent us from entering into life – real life.  Instead of worrying, Jesus said, trust Him and follow His guidance.  Bobby McFerrin had it wrong when he sang “Don’t Worry; Be Happy,” which is a potentially dangerous exercise in wishful thinking.  Jesus said, “Don’t worry; trust God and follow Me, your guide.”  There is a big difference.

So, what did Jesus, our guide, tell us to do?  “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.”  He didn’t say, “Clean up your act and do righteous things.”  He said, “Seek God’s righteousness, given to those who respond to Him as their King.”  It’s not the self-righteous who enter the kingdom of God, but rather, Jesus taught, it is the “poor in spirit,” who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:3&6).  In other words, it is those who know they cannot make it on their own, those who are ready to trust Him to guide them (“blessed are the meek” – Matthew 5:5).  Terry Bolter couldn’t rescue himself.  He was trapped in a building with the Gestapo hammering on the door.  His only hope for safety was to put aside worry and trust his guide.  That’s the situation we are in.  Jesus says, “Don’t worry; follow me, seeking God’s Kingdom and righteousness.”

Here’s the link to the rest of Terry’s story:  click here



Keep the Faith – Summary

All followers of Jesus will experience tough challenges that will tempt them to abandon what they believe.  All of us.  All followers will wonder if following Jesus is worth it, whether they have been gullible.  All of us.  Jesus promised us that following Him would be tough, painful at times and would cost some of us our lives.  The key to enduring these trials is the same thing that connected us with Jesus in the first place: Faith.   He is the Author (the Inventor and Giver) of our faith and He is the Perfecter of it.

When – not if but when – you go through these challenging times, it will serve you well to read Hebrews 11 and 12, letting the truths contained in those chapters soak into your heart and encourage you.  That is why they are there!

A friend of mine blessed my heart the other day, when he said: “Worry is the fear that God won’t get it right.  Bitterness is the belief that God got it wrong.”  Nice.  And between worry and bitterness, in the place of peace, lies faith, the faith that knows, despite circumstances that seem to deny it, that, of course God will get it right!