“Be anxious for nothing, 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 through Christ Jesus.”
I imagine that this verse is familiar to most everyone. It is such a beautiful combination of a command and a promise. Don’t be anxious, give it to God with Thanksgiving, and you will be protected by peace.
The thing that I love about this passage is the promise of a peace that passes understanding guarding your hearts and minds. Peace the guardian. Peace the fence. Peace, the mean dog. Peace that no one can understand, peace that can’t be outsmarted. Imagine a sign on your heart, and on your mind, “Beware of Peace.”
This peace is not some kind of ambivalence. It is not some kind of soft haze. This kind of peace is not afraid of reality – quite the opposite, it is the one thing equipped to deal with it. When we give into fears and anxieties, we often feel like we are looking realistically at things. Maybe we are worried that we can’t get pregnant, so we head off down that worry path, thinking that plumbing the depths of anxiety will in some way equip us for it when it comes.
Maybe we are worried that we won’t get married, so we think that wrestling with all of the fear of rejection, fear of what other people are thinking, fear of what God has in store for us will in some way be a protection. Like if we gather all the ugly things around us we are not being naive. Like having anxiety is just being realistic.
Scripture tells us otherwise. Here, the command is to cast your concerns on God. If you want to deal with your worry, this is where you start. Because the peace that God provides (and which passes all understanding) is not some tame cozy kitty cat. It is not a fuzzy security blanket. It is security from true threats, from true problems, from true darkness. This peace is a peace that is fierce. It protects your heart. It protects your mind.
We know the kind of enemies of our hearts and minds have. Why do we think this kind of peace would be small? Why would it be gentle? It protects us from the worst enemies that we have – the enemies that we cannot see, that we cannot understand.
So when we are tempted to worry, we need to follow this simple progression. We need to make our concerns known to God with thanksgiving, presenting to Him our worries and concerns. What is promised us here is that His peace will protect us. It will protect our hearts, and protect our minds. And that is a wonderful promise.