Peace that Passes Understanding

There for the Taking—God’s Way

A non-believing man who just recently lost several members of his family in an Idaho plane crash stopped by our church office this week, saying he was just looking for “peace.”

How could anyone find peace in the wake of such a tragedy? And if by ‘peace’ one means finding some sort of panacea that will cause all that pain and sorrow to evaporate from the soul like a heavy morning fog, well, that’s not going to happen. Such relief, if it ever comes, takes a long time. For many who have been through such trauma, the pain and the hurt survives long after the public memory of the disaster has dissipated. It clings to the tender emotions like sticky tree sap.

Yet, there is a peace that passes understanding, (Philippians 4:7) a peace that strangely calms the soul when the heart is broken, when the emotions are in turmoil, when it seems that life can never be ‘good’ again. It is one of those things that cannot really be fully explained; it just has to be experienced.

Haven’t we sometimes marveled as we see some horrific disaster scene on our TV screens, perhaps in the wake of a dreadful earthquake or an F5 tornado or an epic hurricane (like Katrina) that just wiped out everything in its path, leaving every physical thing in its path in a terrible tangle and jumble, yet standing there before a camera is a very grateful family that has lost everything to their name, thanking God just the same for sparing their lives?

“Things can be replaced, but there is no replacing one another! We are just so happy to have one another.”

How in the world are they able to have that relative peace when literally everything they owned is in pieces? How are they able to be so composed and poised when everything that belonged to them is shattered and scattered from here to kingdom come?

To me It is remarkable how often these who are the tranquil ‘protagonists’ in such disaster dramas turn out to be fellow believers. Just when reporters on the scene might expect storm-scarred victims to be railing at God, or barking for climate change, here they are standing in the midst of death and destruction giving thanks to God.

As one who has experienced my own share of peace-shattering ‘heavy lifting’ in the painful corridors of life, I well know that paradox of peace when all Hell seems to be breaking loose about me.

Before I explain this irony, let me make an observation. In what I will call this ‘day of rage’ in our society, all this festering anger, all this hate spewing in our streets, all this seething, implacable sense of victimization, all this frightening blood lust surging in our cities is just symptomatic of one root problem—estrangement from God, our Creator, and the tortured or blunted consciences that stem from that.

All these virulent ‘viruses’ boiling up around us are just symptoms, whatever their superficial excuses, of restless hearts that just keep casting up mire and dirt from within. For there is no peace for the wicked (the person alienated from God). (Isaiah 57:20-21)

No peace or quiet in their soul space. Just an inescapable sense of strange and unshakeable bondage that the victims attribute to all the wrong sources. For some reason they are un-free within. They are forever resenting and railing at this person or group as the cause of their ‘oppression’ when the real cause is elsewhere. Unbeknownst to them, they are really in bondage to the Evil One, to sin and the flesh. That’s because the life-giving ‘umbilical’ cord between them and their Creator was severed when our original parents revolted against their Creator.

Ever since, no peace. No hope. No help. All on their own on this island called Life and often mad at the world, or maybe, just mad, like insane, because this estrangement from God and His resources is tearing them apart from the inside out 1000 ways from Sunday.

I have been talking about the extreme cases. But the soul sickness, though not asymptomatic, affects everybody who has not found his or her way back to their Creator-Redeemer. At best, no matter how comfortable, successful, or privileged a person might be, there remains a vague sense of dis-ease in their trek through this life, a sense that something is missing, a sense that it shouldn’t be this way, a sense of having it all—or at least a lot of whatever most people are looking for—and yet, there is a gnawing emptiness amid all the fulness, a sense of desperation that most find ways to cleverly mask so that others in their circles will not discover their sense of lostness.

You see, there just is no peace for the wicked (rebels against their Creator, unhappy wanderers from God). The soul is never peaceful until it finds its rest in God. Their hearts just keep churning up mire and dirt inside and in the more extreme cases, outside, making others as miserable as they are themselves.

The fundamental trouble (this lack of internal peace—soul peace) is cosmic, universal, and timeless. People everywhere, down through time, of every language, tribe, nation and culture, just keep flopping around like fish out of water, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, century after century, running around in this direction or that, up this blind alley or another, pursuing this object or that, wearing themselves out, chasing rainbows of vain hopes in all the wrong places. Sometimes they do gain their ‘prize’ and find temporary joy, but like the morning dew on a sunny day, it all has this very familiar way of going away. Lasting peace eludes the most persistent, like grasping smoke.

The futility of the human quest for peace is written all over the face of human history. And that story, as has been noted before, is in great measure, a narrative of man’s inhumanity to man, all in a mad effort to finally achieve peace and prosperity by suppressing and oppressing others standing in their way or who may help them have their way. Human history is just one long trail of blood and injustice seasoned with some noble, failed efforts to arrest it and bring about peace on earth and good will among men by our own heroic efforts.

What is going on in our country today is just a microcosm of human history. Our little drama will play out no differently than all those that have gone before us-another sad cycle of human triumph (for one party or the other) followed by human tragedy. Reset, repeat ad nauseam. We ain’t gonna git there the way we keep goin.’ Finding peace, internal or external, is like chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Not happening.

To understand the human predicament on the peace thing, one must understand (hey, breaking news!) the past to get his head around the present. And, I should add, be willing to accept the truth (about the past) rather than keep trying to float our boats on false narratives made up in human imagination to escape reality.

Maybe you have heard it before, then maybe not. But there is the gist—straight from the Bible.

Mankind was created by God (sorry, Darwin, your theory never held water) and for God. At the threshold of human history, our first parents revolted against God’s solitary ‘test’ commandment. That act introduced ‘sin’ (transgression) in the life of our progenitors. That rebellion corrupted human nature from that day to this.

The pre-announced penalty God imposed was death. First, death in the form of separation from fellowship with God our Creator. From the life of God, which is eternal. Second, that death sentence included gradual dissolution of the union between the body and the soul—death in its normal street sense.

All together the toll of that rebellion against our Creator ramified horribly.

Suddenly, like a violent cloudburst in the soul, that original disharmony exploded in four directions. And today all that disharmony reverberates in all the descendants of our original parents. That event explains (nothing else explains it) why there is no native peace in any human soul. It explains why every person coming into this world is to one degree or another ‘disturbed,’ not fully at home in his or her own skin—at least not for long.

That resultant disharmony, like a bomb busting in air, exploded in four human dysfunctionalities.

As already mentioned, it disrupted our connection with God, that is, caused (spiritual dysfunction). In short, we were separated from our life Source.

Two, it created social dysfunction. Because all were corrupted with sin, our fall not only disturbed our relationship with God, but created some social disharmony. Even in the best of human community, we still manage to rub one another the wrong way, get on the other’s nerves and regularly manage to hurt and hate one another. That reflects an inherent sin nature (prone to do the wrong things), a product of the Fall.

Three, the fallout created psychological dysfunction. Who has it all together? Who enjoys perfect harmony within? Why are psychiatry and psychology growth industries? Why are people of all classes popping pills like kids popping firecrackers on the fourth of July? Why so many suicides? So many long faces? So many people with dead eyes? So many running around in bizarre get ups, crazy hair, tats up the gazoo, everything about their aspect fairly shouting, “I can’t stand myself! or you either!”

Finally, it created environmental dysfunction. We just can’t keep the balance. We abuse, misuse it with abandon or in reaction, some want to so restrict it that nature cannot be our friend.

Estranged from our Creator, estranged from others, estranged from ourselves, estranged from our environment. All because the intrusion of human sin and rebellion into the original mix that God pronounced “Good!” We messed it up. And ever since the human race has been messed up.

Peace shot to the wind. Peace, peace, there is no peace for the wicked, says the Lord. There can be no peace until the soul finds its rest in God. And that will never happen until a soul admits the underlying problem, repents of its rebellion, casts itself upon the mercy and grace of God for His forgiveness in

Christ Jesus.

In the wake of the introduction of sin into the world that God had perfectly created, God imposed a curse as part of human punishment, a kind of wobble in the wheel of nature, that, despite retaining in His mercy its provident character, introduced a wild and threatening side with which humanity wrestles universally. In short, it is a struggle to live on this beautiful planet where initially it was not. Paradise was lost.

At all those levels sin messed us up and stresses us out in so many ways. And we see it playing out in every sector of life every day. Bottom line, this is for mankind a world where there is no peace in the heart of human beings. There is no peace for people alienated from God, for people who reject the one way of reconciliation with God.

Universally, the human race is a restless hill of ants. People are falling over top of one another trying to find the latest and greatest new thing to fill the void in their souls.

Yet peace remains elusive. Some in desperation try the whole cafeteria of human substitute religions, but all are like fake news. All talk, no truth.

If you want peace, that connection with God must be re-established. You can’t hotwire it. You must stop seeking it in your own ways, in your own venues, on your own terms.

Jesus said, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes unto the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

If you want peace, you must lay aside your human pride and come on your knees (in spirt), humbly bowing before your Creator and Redeemer, confessing that you too are a fallen sinner, trusting His word that by God’s grace we are saved through faith in Him alone, not on the basis of any human merit or proud works. Ephesians 2:8-9

Then and only then will you find peace for your soul. “These things (which Jesus had just taught His disciples) I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

“Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him has received the forgiveness of sins.” Acts 10:43

Peace begins with peace with God. Peace with God begins with reconciliation with God. And that happens only when by faith one receives His Son, Jesus, as Savior and Lord.

Peace that passes understanding is there for the taking—God’s way.

Jim Andrews
Senior Pastor
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