“You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3.
The devastation that the COVID-19 Pandemic is causing around the world has led many to conclude that we may well be at the incipient phase of the apocalypse! The global economy is in a turmoil and the forecast for the future is not pleasant. Many nations have gone into recession and something worse may follow if a vaccine or treatment is not found for the COVID-19. Understandably, there is palpable fear everywhere as people worry about their future. It is usually in times like this that God speaks to reassure His people; I believe He is saying that we can have peace amidst the storms.
Many of us grew up singing the classic hymn written by Bishop Edward Henry Bickersteth: “Peace, perfect peace.” This hymn is so appropriate at a time like this –
- Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.
- Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.
- Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?
On Jesus’ bosom naught but calm is found.
- Peace, perfect peace, ’mid suffering’s sharpest throes?
The sympathy of Jesus breathes repose.
- Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
In Jesus’ keeping we are safe, and they.
- Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.
- Peace, perfect peace, death shad’wing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its pow’rs.
- It is enough: earth’s struggles soon shall cease,
And Jesus calls us to Heav’n’s perfect peace.
You would notice that the first line of each stanza is a question which is subsequently answered in the second line. Can we have peace when there is trouble all around us, when the future is filled with uncertainties? Where do we find courage to face life when everything around us is falling apart? The hymn writer believes that the answer to the questions of life can be found in Jesus. Andrae Crouch sang: “Jesus is the answer for the world today, above Him there’s no other, Jesus is the Way.”
No doubt, Bishop Bickersteth must have been inspired by Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” The words translated “perfect peace” is shalom, shalom in the Hebrew, which literally means ‘peace peace.’ That is like saying double peace! The prophet was saying that God would give double peace to those whose minds are stayed on Him.
In the Old Testament, shalom means “completeness, soundness, welfare, to be at ease spiritually and emotionally and to have a sense of internal well-being despite adverse circumstances.” In the New Testament, the Greek word for peace is ‘eirene’ which means “to bring peace, to live in peace, to be undisturbed in all circumstances.” This is promised to those whose minds are ‘stayed’ on God. The word ‘stayed’ means to lean upon or to take hold of. Isaiah 26:3 was meant to be a song. Often, when God wanted any truth to be etched in the memory of His people, He communicated it as a song. The people were to always remember that God is the One who gives perfect peace. They were to fix their minds on this truth and rest secure in it.
THE PRINCE OF PEACE
Jesus anticipated that difficult times would arise, that’s why He said, “ Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27. Furthermore, He said, “I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” John 16:33 MSG
In Ephesians 2:14 we are told that “He Himself is our peace…” Isaiah referred to Him as “The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). At His birth the angels announced: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:14. When we commit our lives to Him, we have peace with God (Romans 5:1); when our mind is ‘stayed’ on Him, we enjoy the peace of God despite what may be happening around us. We are told to “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.” Philippians 4:6-7.
MASTER OVER STORMS
We need to know that our Lord is master over storms. In Mark 4:35-41 we read how Jesus and the disciples were on a journey across the lake. Suddenly there was a “great storm.” The word “great” in Greek is “mega.” There was a “mega storm.” It was so huge that the disciples thought they were all going to perish. “Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” Mark 4:39-41. After Jesus rebuked the wind we are told that there was a “great calm” or mega calm.
When the devil brings mega storm to your life know that God is able to turn it around to a mega calm. The Psalmist said to God, “You rule the raging of the sea; When its waves rise, You still them.” Psalm 89:9. The sea may be raging now against you but as Catherine Booth once said, “the waters are rising now, but so am I. I am not going under, but over.” You will go over too.
At another time Jesus instructed His disciples to go over to the other side. While they were crossing the river a great storm also arose against them. This time Jesus was not with them in the boat. However, in the midst of the storm they saw Jesus walking towards them but didn’t realise that it was Jesus. “But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” 28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.” Matthew 14:27-29. Peter was having quite an adventure walking on the water “But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” Matthew 14:30. When Peter cried for help the Lord intervened and rescued him.
FIX YOUR EYES ON JESUS
When Peter was looking to Jesus, when he fixed his mind and gaze upon Jesus, he could walk on the stormy sea, but when his eyes shifted from the Master, he began to sink. When his mind was stayed on the Lord, he had peace in the midst of the storm.
If we must enjoy this peace then we must fix our eyes on the Lord, we must guard our minds against fear. The mind in this context includes our thoughts and imaginations of the mind. Fear and distress can fill our minds causing anxiety and worry as a result of our imaginations. That is why we need to consciously disconnect from anything that feeds our fears. If we fix our eyes on the media and our minds on what the overnight Coronavirus experts and doom and gloom prophets are predicting, we will live in constant fear and anxiety. Satan will often attack the mind because he knows that a distracted mind would cause a distressed life. We, therefore, need to insulate our minds with the word of God (Psalm 119:165).
The peace of God is guaranteed to those who are willing to trust Him: “Because he trusts in You.” The Scripture went further to say, “Trust in the LORD always,
for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock.” Isaiah 26:4 NLT. The keeping is His, while the trusting is ours. The Psalmist says concerning the person who trusts God: “He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.” Psalms 112:7. This is the time to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5.
David was familiar with storms. At one time he seemed to have had it all, then lost it all, but eventually got back all. When you read David’s testimony, you see a man who had implicit trust in the faithfulness of God. “[What, what would have become of me] had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living! Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14 AMP
As we watch events unfold in the world, we don’t have to allow fear to rule our lives. God has promised in Isaiah 54:10, “For the mountains shall depart And the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” Says the LORD, who has mercy on you.” There is a “covenant of peace” that God is committed to, Jesus is the guarantee of that peace. He is Lord even over the storms. He might say ‘peace be still’ to stop the storm or give you peace amidst the storm. Whichever, rest secure in His love.