Perfect Peace for the Unwavering Mind
Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.
American Catholic writer, Thomas Merton once said, " We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God " How true and fitting in these the last days, where wars and rumors of wars abound. Where one side is pitted against the other side even within the same country. With the economy in shambles, healthcare a disaster, corruption at every turn, new plagues reported daily, and wars in multiple countries it is not too hard to understand why peace may seem as far away as those simpler times we yearn to return to. Yet as Merton outlined, there is a simple and linear reason why we do not experience peace. If we are in constant turmoil inside of ourselves, we will never find peace with others and if we are in turmoil with God, we cannot find that peace we need within ourselves.
The Prophet Isaiah recognizes this as well in the key verse above. Such a short and simple verse, but many truths are contained within. The first truth we must grasp today is that perfect peace is attainable! This is not some pie in the sky fairy tale. It is not some far off wish that will never come true. God is not a man that He would lie (Numbers 23:19). Note the words here from Isaiah. He does not say "you might" or you will consider". He says you will keep in perfect peace. Let us not lose sight of the fact that the peace we are discussing here is perfect. The peace the world offers is far from perfect. Throughout history peace treaties have been made only to be broken. Peace in the world is tenuous at best. It is unreliable. It does not stand the test of time. It does not hold up against the depravity of man. Yet how does God describe the peace He brings?
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 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. Philippians 4: 4-7
The peace of God Almighty transcends all understanding! We cannot even fathom it! Whatever knowledge man has acquired over the thousands of years we have existed, the peace that God provides is beyond that knowledge and understanding. Note from these Philippians verses three important facts that relate to this peace. First, the Lord is near. Hallelujah! God is not some far away God standing over us with lightening bolts in His hands waiting for us to mess up. He is not some distant entity that we have to search for. The Lord is near. David describes God as being at his right hand. The New Testament teaches us that the Hope of Glory is Christ within us (Colossians 1:27). That is how close God is. That is how close His peace is to us. Secondly, the Philippians verses teach us that the source of unrest is anxiety or worry and by turning these concerns over to God, we can enter into His peace. This is always difficult for us as human beings. The world teaches self sufficiency and solving your own problems. It teaches self-help when what we really need is God-help. The last fact from the Philippians verses is that unrest attacks our hearts and minds. We know this because it says that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds. The truth is that our hearts and minds do need constant protection. We are bombarded by the messages of the world. But God says to renew your mind:
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
The key verse above also addresses the mind. Isaiah says that God will keep in perfect peace those whose mind is steadfast. The dictionary defines steadfast as: