Peace That Passes All Understanding
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In Philippians 4:7 we have a wonderful promise: “The peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” It is important to note the context of this promise, because that’s where we find the condition: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”1 God’s peace is promised to guard those who pray—with thanksgiving—about everything. This peace will transcend our ability to understand it.
There are other gifts of God that are not fully comprehensible to us. The gift of salvation is “indescribable.”2 The complexity and wisdom of God’s plan is inscrutable.3 According to Ephesians 3:19, the love of Christ is something else so great we will never fully understand it. Likewise, human reasoning is incapable of fully comprehending the peace of God.
The believer who places his or her full confidence in a loving God and is thankful in every circumstance will possess a supernatural peace. An inner calm will dominate the heart. The faithful believer will know peace—his heart and mind are “guarded” by it—despite the tempest raging without. No one, especially those outside of Christ, will be able to fathom that peace. To most, it will remain a mystery how someone can be so serene in the midst of turmoil.
The peace that comes from being in a right relationship with God is not the peace of this world. The world’s peace depends on having favorable circumstances: if things are going well, then we feel peaceful; when things go awry, the peace quickly dissipates. Jesus made the distinction between His peace and the world’s vacillating peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.”4
God’s supernatural peace surpasses natural understanding. A cancer patient who experiences a remission of the disease may proclaim, “I am so thankful to God!” That is praise. A cancer patient who is dying and in pain may calmly say, “Everything is all right. I claim Romans 8:28, and I have peace in my heart.” That is “the peace that passes all understanding.”—From gotquestions.org5
It may take a while for you to see God answer your prayers. But don’t miss an “in the meantime answer” you can receive right away. Philippians 4:6–7 reminds us of the immediate answer to every prayer: “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.”6
Did you catch it? It’s the peace of God that will guard your heart and mind in the process while you’re waiting for God to reveal His answer to your request. When you pray, you can trust you’re doing your part, and God will certainly do His part.—Lysa TerKeurst7
Jesus promises us peace. “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.”8
Just as Jesus calmed the stormy sea when His disciples thought their ship was sinking and they were about to drown,9 He can calm the storms of life and give you inner peace that passes all understanding.10
He did it for Paul and Silas, when they were beaten and thrown into prison. Instead of despairing, they sang praises to God—and were suddenly and miraculously set free!11
What is the deeper meaning of “peace that surpasses all understanding”? It takes a fuller reading of the passage to understand all the nuances of this oft-quoted Scripture.
Just before Paul reassures the people of this perfect peace available to guard their hearts, he encourages them to do something that might sound odd in light of their difficult experiences: Rejoice in the Lord. And not only on occasion, or when times are good, but to do so “always.” As Paul writes,
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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.”14
In essence, he says, don’t worry about a thing. Ask God for what you need, be grateful, and joyful in your faith, and your heart and mind will be wrapped tenderly in the protective peace of the Lord.
The key here is that this peace comes as a result of an action: Prayer. When we petition God—go to Him with our requests, worries, cares, and concerns—we get a bonus gift: Not only does He hear us, but He gives us a peaceful, easy feeling in return because we’ve dealt with the problem correctly by giving it over to the only One who can do anything about it.
That means that no matter our circumstance … we’ll be able to handle it in stride. Our faith in God dispels fear and conquers the evil one, leaving us content in whatever life brings.
It’s a secure confidence, a deep-rooted knowledge, that God is in charge and will take care of everything.—Jessica Brodie15
Don’t allow yourself to feel sad or discouraged about your imperfections, because you will never be perfect. Instead, be thankful that I am here to help you and support you. Then you won’t be tempted to feel bad when you stumble or fall along the way.
Look to Me for the strength and endurance you need. Come to Me for the answers and guidance that you need. Bring your burdens to Me and I will help you carry them. Give Me your worries and fears, and I will give you My peace that passes all understanding. Bring whatever is a source of despair or discouragement or remorse to Me and tell Me about it, so you don’t carry it in your own strength. Lay all these burdens at My feet, and let My love heal and restore you.
As you bring each worry, fear, or trouble to Me, I will give you guidance. As you keep your thoughts on Me, I will fill you with My perfect peace and give you strength to carry on.—Jesus
Published on Anchor June 2022. Read by John Laurence.
Music by Michael Dooley.
1 Philippians 4:6.
2 2 Corinthians 9:15.
3 Isaiah 55:8–9.
4 John 14:27.
6 NIV, emphasis added.
8 John 14:27 NKJV.
9 See Mark 4:35–41.
10 Philippians 4:6–7 NIV.
11 Acts 16:22–26.
12 Proverbs 3:5.
13 Isaiah 26:3.
14 Philippians 4:4–7.
- Living in God’s Word
- God’s Healing Balm in Times of Grief
- Hurry and Worry
- One Thing Before All Things
- Faith Like Gold
- Learning About God’s Mercy
- Trusting Through the Silence
- A Life Well Lived, Today and for the Future
- How God Gave Me a Home
- Setting Our Affections on Things Above