The Peace of God
… a synopsis of the writing of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
The Apostle Paul exhorted the early Christians to rejoice in the Lord always, being mindful that there are many forces in life that tend to rob the Christian of that joy. One of these factors is the tyranny of circumstances, the things that happen to us.
Here lies a practical test of our faith and of our Christian position, far removed from the realm of mere theory. We are in the situation, things are happening to us, and the question is, what is our faith worth at that point? How does it differentiate us from people who have no faith?
Let us consider what the Apostle Paul has to say on how to deal with the tyranny of circumstances.
He tells us what we need to avoid: the state of anxiety, of harassing care that wears us down. In a profound piece of Biblical psychology, Paul shows us that we get into this state of nervous, brooding unrest due to the activity of the heart and mind. In other words, Paul is saying that we cannot completely control our hearts and minds and the conditions of agitation they produce. The anxiety happens apart from us and in spite of us.
Paul shows what we need to do in order to avoid the inner turmoil, in a manner quite different from the psychological or “common-sense” prescription. He does not say “stop worrying” because it is the very thing a worried person cannot do. It is like telling a helpless drunkard to stop drinking.
First, Paul tells us to pray. This means worship and adoration. In the midst of insurmountable problems, we do not rush to God with our petitions; we come into His presence, lay our problems aside, and pour out our hearts to Him in praise and adoration.
Next, we bring our petitions to God, with an attitude of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is essential because there must be no doubt as to God’s goodness in our hearts. We recall the many things we can be thankful for, the many blessings we have received from Him in the past.
After prayer, supplication and thanksgiving comes the promise of the peace of God that will keep our hearts and minds, garrisoned from the stresses and anxieties, a supernatural peace that transcends all understanding, attained in and through Jesus Christ.
Notice that the promise does not mention the circumstances or the things that troubled us. The triumph of the gospel message is that through the peace of God, we are taken above circumstances; we are made victorious in spite of them.
“6 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7, King James Version
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, 1965, Great Britain: Pickering and Inglis ltd, pp.261-272