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The Gift of Perfect Peace

August 30, 2022 • Life for Leaders

Scripture – Isaiah 26:3-4 (NIV)

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.

Focus

God gives “perfect peace” to those who trust in him. Thus Isaiah urges us to “Trust in the LORD forever” (26:4). As we do this, we will come to know peace, not only in our spirits, but also in our relationships, our communities, and our world.

Devotion

I can still hear echoes of my Sunday School teacher quoting Isaiah 26:3 in the classic language of the King James Version: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” What an amazing, alluring promise! “Perfect peace” accurately renders the Hebrew original, which reads literally, shalom shalom, “peace peace.”

How do we experience perfect peace? First, we recognize that it is a gift from God, not something we produce merely by our human efforts. Though retreats, silence, meditation, deep breathing, and mindfulness can help us to experience peace, perfect peace is not something we create, but something we receive. Yet we can put ourselves in a position to receive God’s peace by trusting in him. Even in hard times, even when it seems as if God is absent, we can nevertheless lean back into God’s strong arms.

Moreover, we open our hearts to God’s peace by fixing our thoughts upon him. We allow the Scripture to reveal God to us in truth. We meditate upon God’s written word, letting it percolate from our minds to our hearts. When we face trial or temptation, we turn our thoughts to the Lord, claiming his goodness and grace. When our lives are filled with peril, we remember God’s promises. The more we allow the truth of God to permeate our souls, the less we’ll be troubled by earthly woes, and the more we’ll be ready to receive the gift of perfect peace.

In Isaiah 26 peace isn’t something experienced by isolated individuals. Rather, it is shared by God’s people who live in a “strong city” (26:1). Thus it says in verse 12, “LORD, you establish peace for us.” For us, plural, not just for me, singular. This is not to deny the peace we individually receive from the Lord. God does grant peace to each of us. But perfect peace, peace that is full and complete, will necessarily be something we share with others.

One of the best definitions I have found of biblical peace comes from the philosopher Cornelius Plantinga. He explains that biblical peace, what Scripture calls “shalom,” is “the webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight.” It is “a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed.” Ultimately, shalom, “the way things ought to be,” is found in Jesus Christ, who is our peace and who makes peace through the cross (see Plantinga, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, p. 10).

Thus, after proclaiming that God will keep in perfect peace “those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in [God],” Isaiah exhorts us to “Trust in the LORD forever” (Isaiah 26:4). The plural imperative “trust” reminds us that we are encouraged and empowered to trust God not just when we are alone, but also and especially when we are in community with the people of God.

Reflect

Have there been times in your life when you have experienced something like perfect peace? What put you in a position to receive this gift?

What helps you to trust God more consistently?

How do you respond to the definition of biblical peace based on the work of Cornelius Plantinga?

Do you need to trust God with a particular need or concern today? Will you ask God to help you trust him more? Will you ask a brother or sister to pray for you?

Act

If you are experiencing something in your life that is robbing you of peace, give this to the Lord in prayer. You may find it helpful to get someone else to pray for you and with you about this thing.

Pray

Gracious God, first, I thank you for those times when you have given me the gift of supernatural peace. I remember moments in my life when I was weighed down by grief and worry, yet, as I turned to you, you graciously filled my heart with the calm assurance that comes from knowing the living God. How grateful I am!

Lord, I wish I could live in your peace at all times. The truth is that I’m not always ready to trust you fully. I can fill my mind with worries rather than fixing my thoughts on you. So I ask for your help. May I learn to focus on you, rather than on that which troubles me. May your word so fill my mind and heart that I’m regularly in a position to receive the gift of your perfect peace. May I live in fellowship with your people, who can help me trust you more.

Finally, I ask that you help me be an instrument of your peace to others. May I give away that which you have so generously showered upon me. Amen.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Peace Be with You.


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