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One of the basic human needs is for peace. Genuine peace is not the absence of conflict. Otherwise, Washington, D.C. would not have such a large assortment of peace monuments. One is built after every war. Peace is an inner possession, and lasting peace can only be supplied by God.
Apostle Paul, in Philippians 4:6-7, elaborates on this when he says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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” (NIV).
The word “guard” in these verses literally means “to stand as a sentinel, to serve as a lookout.” When Paul penned these words he was a prisoner of Caesar, guarded constantly by a Roman soldier. In today’s troubled world our lives need to be garrisoned by God’s peace, don’t they? The nearness of God as He guards our hearts and minds is what makes possible the admonition, “Do not be anxious about anything.”
Theologian Dr. Halford Luccock, in one of the books I studied while in seminary way back in the mid-1950’s said, “Telling someone not to be anxious is a little like telling someone sitting on the edge of the crater of an active volcano not to worry.” Genuine and lasting peace can only be provided by the Prince of Peace.
Jesus, after He predicted His death upon the cross, said to His disciples, “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14: 25-27).
“The peace that passes understanding” described in God’s Word is available, but millions of people are looking for it in the wrong places — in a pill, in a bottle, at the end of a needle, in pursuing pleasure, or in countless other places where peace is often promised, but not delivered. The Bible makes it clear to all who read it that freedom from anxiety, though often promised by the world, is not delivered.
The prospect of world conflict, of course, is not the only source of anxiety that people experience. Many who are facing burdens and tensions are looking for a place to hide. But there is no place in our world where they can hide. Their difficulty is that they are trying to hide from themselves.
A scholar in Australia in the 1930’s accurately foresaw from his observation of global events that a worldwide war would soon break out. He also recognized that Japan would be one of the belligerent nations. Very few Americans, if any, foresaw that fact. Otherwise we would not have sold millions of tons of scrap iron to Japan in the late 1930’s. That scrap iron was turned into weapons that attacked Pearl Harbor.
That Australian scholar studied his atlas in search of the perfect hiding place, the best possible island to escape from the storm about to break across the civilized world. By the employment of careful logic and the process of deduction, he finally selected the ideal spot to escape the coming conflict — an obscure Pacific island. In the summer of 1939 he went ashore there. The name of that island was Guadalcanal.
Escape is not the answer for dealing constructively with anxieties. Apostle Paul knew the secret: It is “through prayer . . . with thanksgiving . . . presenting our requests to God.” When we follow this pattern “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts through Christ Jesus.”
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