Recently, I was reminded of a favorite Vacation Bible School song from my youth: “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” One of the other stanzas in the song is: “I’ve got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart.”
That stanza comes from Philippians 4:7. The entire passage from Philippians 4 (NIV) reads: “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 [passes] all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Perhaps never in my lifetime has there been more talk about peace. Yet war is what we see or experience most often. There seem to be less gentleness and more anxiety. Rejoicing and thanksgiving aren’t in the headlines.
I suspect we will never know peace through military power or political persuasion or peace talks, though we often say those are the things that will guard us and ultimately result in peace. That’s what we are told to understand. I’m afraid that’s misguided thinking, however.
It’s much more likely that in a world ruled by starting wars and encouraging hate and pursuing strength, peace will come by praying to God for the peace that passes all understanding. That is the peace that will guard us. That is the peace that will cause rejoicing and thanksgiving. That is the peace that will be down in our hearts.
That’s too simple, some will say. That’s not real peace, many will argue. Perhaps we should be content to rely on the wisdom of scripture instead of the expertise of military strategists and world leaders.