The next fruit of the Spirit in our series is peace. This is a pretty crazy time to discuss peace. At the time that I write this, the Coronavirus is closing in on half a million confirmed cases. Countries are closing their borders and several U.S. Cities and states have issued stay-at-home orders. We can make jokes about Quarantinis all day, but this is a terrifying situation.
So, how should we, as Christians, respond?
In my opinion: with preparation, prayer, and peace. I’ve already written about how we should prepare for disaster, so I won’t go in to it here.
One of the most important things we can be doing right now is praying. If you head to my Instagram, I’m doing a series of daily prayers for this pandemic. Please join me as I pray for our world in crisis.
Lastly, we should be at peace. We’ll get into the how later, but let’s talk about what peace is first.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:7
What is peace?
“Peace” here is the Greek word “Eirene.” (Fun fact: this is where the name Irene comes from!) This is an all-encompassing peace: peace with God, peace with men, and peace with ourselves. And this is not just the absence of fighting – this is a positive peace, filled with blessing and wholeness.
Eirene means not just freedom from trouble but everything that makes for a man’s highest good. Here it means that tranquility of heart which derives from the all-pervading consciousness that our times are in the hands of God.William Barclay
This is a supernatural peace. I love the phraseology “surpasses all understanding” – this peace of God is literally beyond our comprehension. It makes no sense. A non-believer should be able to look in on a Christian’s life and say, “Their life is falling apart but their reaction makes no sense to me. They should be out of their minds, but instead they are calm. Why?”
Another verse which parallels this one is Ephesians 3:19 – it refers to Jesus’s love as “surpassing all knowledge.” The love that Jesus has for us is literally beyond understanding, just like His peace is outside of our comprehension. THIS is why we can have peace, because of His incredible love.
This is not a passive peace, either. This is a hard-fought-for peace. JESUS fought for this peace – He died for it, and in power and glory, He resurrected for this peace.
When Paul says that God’s peace will “guard our hearts,” the term “guard” is a military term. This gives the image of God setting up a citadel around our hearts, protecting us from the enemy’s missiles.
How do we get this peace?
First of all: this is from God, not from our own efforts. It is a supernatural, divine peace that CANNOT be attained by human effort. No amount of zen yoga, bath-taking or candle lighting will get you this. Let’s get that straight.
The reason we can have this peace is because of Jesus’s death and resurrection. Because of His immense love for us and His grace on us.
The verses surrounding our focus scripture give us a hint about how we can tap into God’s divine peace.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.Philippians 4:6-9
1. Prayer with petition:
Prayer is a general term whereas petition (or, in other translations: supplication) is more specifically a request to God. What this means to me is that our prayers should be specific. If we are anxious about something, we should specifically and thoroughly pray about that situation. God wants to hear us – nothing is too small. (1 Peter 5:7)
2. Pray with thanksgiving.
No matter what, we always have something to be thankful for. If you can think of nothing else to thank God for, thank Him for His sacrifice on the Cross for you and the power of the resurrection that we can now hope for.
3. Focus on what is true, noble, right…
This is a great journal exercise. Start by asking yourself: what is true in this situation? For example: it is true that the Coronavirus is a pandemic and it is spreading throughout the world. It is scary and deadly. However, it is also true that God is bigger than this pandemic. He made our bodies and He is sovereign over them. It is also true that physical death is not the scariest thing that can happen to a Christian. It is true that Jesus has purchased us for eternal life – and there’s nothing COVID can do about that.
4. Live out the Scriptures.
Paul calls the Philippian readers to practice what he’s preaching to them – and when we do that, the God of peace will be with us. Again, we can’t work ourselves into peace, but I do believe that God allows us to have this when we follow Him. We will never follow Him perfectly, and that’s where His grace comes in, but He knows that living out His Word is good for US! Living for Him and for others takes our eyes off of ourselves and our situation. So, what are some ways that Jesus is calling you to follow Him in the midst of this pandemic?
I’ll end this meditation with this final thought: I just recently read John 13 where Jesus takes part in the Passover meal with His disciples before He goes to the Cross. What struck me is that Jesus, on the night He was about to be crucified, sits down and eats a meal. Have you ever tried to eat when you’re nervous or anxious? It doesn’t happen. So, what does that tell you about his mood on that night?
Then, he washes twelve men’s feet. This was a slow, methodical task. This is not the actions of a man eaten up with anxiety, rushing from event to event to keep from facing facts. These are the actions of a man who is supernaturally at peace, even though He is about to be abandoned by these men, tortured, and then killed.
If Jesus can be at peace – AND serve others! – in the most horrifying of situations, we can be too. Because His Spirit lives inside of us! What an incredible and generous gift God has given us, that we can experience His supernatural peace.
If you’re battling to find peace today, I encourage you to keep praying. Keep petitioning God and bringing your worries before Him. Check out this post about finding calm in the storm.