Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Peace, Where It Could Not Be"

    As a matter of personal protection, God built into humanity the initial reaction of fright when faced with fearsome challenges.  He did not, however, make us to be controlled by ongoing experiences of fear.

    "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear.  Because fear hath torment" (I John 4:18).

    Ongoing feelings of being afraid offer ongoing opportunities for faith in our perfectly faithful Lord.  "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3)
.  It matters not the nature omeasure of the challenge.  When we feel fearful or insecure, the greater reality of the matter involves our Heavenly Father's offer to us of His tranquility.  "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deuteronomy 33:27). 

   In order to experience such assurance, there is something we must do.  The Apostle Paul clearldefines our role in overcoming fear in his epistle to the Philippians:

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

    Note that Paul offers a "peace which passeth all understanding."  This can only refer to a heart at rest where it seems that peace could not exist.  Indeed, we expect peace in times of blessing and quiet.  When trouble comes, however, we are rather tempted to anticipate inner turmoil and fear.  Thus, our Heavenly Father promises to His trusting children that we can experience a tranquil heart in all things if we will follow the path of peace paved for us by the Lord Jesus Christ.  

    First, we must determine that nothing will cause our hearts to be overwhelmed with fear, or in Paul's terms, to be "careful for nothing."  This may seem audacious upon first consideration.  How can we make such a determination, considering the weakness of our flesh and the evidence of past experience?  The answer lies in looking away from these human frailties.  As in every matter of obedience, the issue lies not in ourselves, but in our Lord.  "I will obey" originates in "He will lead and enable."  In fact, the truth of the matter is that every act of obedience to God flows from trust in His presence and dynamic involvement in our lives.  "The just shall live by faith" declares both Testaments (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17).  Thus, everything we do proceeds from trusting dependence on our Lord, including and especially the determination to live in courage rather than fear.  Do we believe that God can empower us to walk in peace no matter what life brings to us?  If we cannot answer this question affirmatively, let us kneel before our Lord with an open Bible and praying heart until He convinces us to join the Psalmist in his determination based not on human discipline, but of Divine enabling: "I will not be afraid" (Psalm 3:6).

    Upon the basis of such confidence in God, we then pray and supplicate, with thanksgiving.  That is, we communicate our requests to the Lord in the remembrance of His promises.  Yes, we thank Him before we actually receive the provision because God's promises are so sure that we may view our hands as full even when they still appear to be empty.  In this matter, we seek His power to transcend fear.  Thus, even if our emotions still quaver and quake as we make our request, we may nevertheless affirm the peace of God as the ruling reality of our hearts.  The Psalmist plainly states the blessed, if enigmatic truth: "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee" (Psalm 56:3).  In the very heart of the maelstrom, we affirm as a matter of faith in our faithful Lord, "I am at peace, at peace in Christ."

    The Christian life is not for the lazy in heart and mind.  We must lived determinedly, especially concerning the challenges and opportunities for faith that continually present themselves.  Fear has no place as a governing influence in our lives, be it small, niggling insecurities, or daunting terrors.  Yes, every feeling or thought of fear offers opportunity for faith, the faith that expects peace where it seems peace could not be.

LORD, Thou wilt ordain peace for us: for Thou also hast wrought all our works in us."
(Isaiah 26:12)

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